“Che brutto!” Lucia Gaja, co-proprietor of Gaja Wines, exclaimed when she saw Riedel’s new Wine Wings glass. “How ugly!”
The Austrian glassmaker’s newest line, created by co-owner Georg Riedel, certainly provokes strong opinions. Max Riedel, Georg’s son and company CEO, asked his father if he really wanted to go through with it. But for Georg, the taste of the wine comes first, and this striking glass provides a perfect loudspeaker for the wine poured into it. He began sketching ideas for it in 2018, and computer models followed. Then the Riedel team built wooden molds, which they employed to produce handmade prototypes. Those were tested, adjustments were made, and the design was adapted so it could be made by machines in order to make the glasses more affordable. The result, Georg says, is a glass that allows a wine’s vibrance and minerality to sing in tastings he held. “The ugly glass won,” he says.
Riedel’s glass shapes have been based on an egg for decades. But Georg flattened the bottom, creating a decanter style shape that will aerate the wine as you swirl.
This bulge, which Georg jokingly calls “the love handle,” is supposed to allow the aromatics to catch the air and lift up toward your nose.
An unusually thin base and stem lend refinement to the machine-made glass, yet it still feels balanced in the hand when filled with wine.