It truly is a small world for Sands Point resident George Muller.
Last year, Muller, who comes from a family of glassmakers in Flemington, N.J., found some of his glasswork at an antique shop in Sarasota — more than 1,100 miles from home.
“I know my own work,” Muller said. “I found these glasses that were my own, ones I cut, all the way in Sarasota.”
Muller is the fifth generation in a family of glassmakers and cutters. He began cutting his own glass at 17.
“I was born into the industry,” he said. “When I was a young guy, I grew up in the business and had to do jobs there.”
In his early 20s, Muller’s interest and skills in glassware turned to an interest in wine.
“Slowly but surely, there was this globalization of wine, and the business grew stronger and stronger, and I got more involved,” he said. “My timing was right, and my interest was keen.”
Muller combined his passions of wine and glassmaking, and through glass company Riedel, he has lectured all over the world on the history of wine glasses. He has spoken on cruise ships, at wine symposiums and festivals and at the original Epcot Food and Wine Festival. He has also judged several wine tastings.
He used to lecture more than 50 times a year but now does it as a hobby. He has been a winter resident of Longboat Key for five years and speaks at local organizations each year, including the Longboat Key Garden Club, St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church and the Rotary Club of Longboat Key.
In addition to speaking about the evolution of wine glasses, he teaches attendees the importance of using the right size and shape of wine glasses for different varietals.
“The tongue is a triangle, and there are zones: sweet, sour, bitter,” Muller said. “All wines have sugar, which is sweet, acid, which is sour, and tannin, which is bitter. Your taste buds pick that taste up based on the shape of the glass.”
Because red wine has bolder flavors, Muller recommends glasses with a wider surface. A narrower glass for white wine helps funnel the light, delicate flavors toward the nose and mouth.
“A $10 wine will taste like a $25 to $30 wine in the right glass,” Muller said. “A proper glass or a good glass can make a good wine better but cannot make a bad wine good.”
Although his favorite varietal of wine varies on the day, Muller tends to prefer Rieslings and pinot noirs.
“A bottle of wine is really just four glasses of pleasure,” he said.