Does the announcement that Riedel has come out with a new glass specifically designed for Oregon Pinot Noir strike you as funny as it does me? What's next? A special glass for Santa Ynez Valley Pinot Gris?
Look, I admire what Riedel has done for wine glasses as much as anyone. (To get caught up on Riedel's contributions to the world of wine, read "Old Wine in New Glasses," and "Riedel's Artful Designs," from the Dec. 15, 1999, issue of Wine Spectator.) I am old enough to remember when Georg Riedel was schlepping around the world setting up tastings of his glasses, specially designed to highlight the best elements of a specific wine, next to other fine crystal glasses. He proved to skeptics, including me, that the shape does matter, that the wines really do taste better in his glasses.
But a special glass just for Oregon Pinot Noir?
According to the press release, the new glass shape came about because the organizers of the Oregon Pinot Noir Celebration wanted to choose an existing Riedel glass for the popular festival, held in late July. So they lined up several Riedel glasses, finally narrowing the choice to two. One of them emphasized the aromas beautifully, but the other made the texture feel silkier.
Oh, the conundrum.
Back in Austria, Riedel experimented with a mixed case of Oregon Pinots and different glass shapes, finally arriving at a big glass with a flared lip to silk up the texture but a slightly narrower opening to focus the flavors. The Oregonians tried the glass and decided they had a winner.
Here's what puzzles me. Oregon vintages have exhibited some pretty wide swings lately, from superripe years such as 2001 and 2003 to much more crisp vintages such as 2004 and 2005. Will the new glass be best for those different vintages, or will we need different glasses for different vintages?
For the record, I use Riedel glasses myself. I have a short-stemmed all-purpose glass for everyday drinking, which seems to make all my wines taste the way I expect them to taste. I have hand-blown claret and Burgundy glasses for special occasions. I like white wines and wines from the Cabernet family in the claret glass, and I find that Syrahs and big Italian reds do beautifully in the big Burgundy bowls, as do my Oregon Pinots.
Georg is going to have to prove I need a separate glass to really enjoy my Beaux Frères and Bergströms. Otherwise, I am just fine with those big Burgundy beauties.