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2010 New World Wine Experience: Riedel Glass Tasting

What’s the one thing that can make a wine taste better? The right stemware

Alison Napjus
Posted: November 1, 2010

At the first seminar of the New World Wine Experience, the very first sip of wine everyone took was from a plain plastic cup, at the direction of a self-described “crazy Austrian glassmaker.” Georg Riedel—whose family has a centuries-long history of producing fine glass—used the cup to prove a point as he and his son Maximilian demonstrated the impact that proper stemware can have on wine’s taste. “Nothing can add or take away from wine, but we can alter the perception,” said Georg.

Participants compared the taste of two wines in Riedel Vinum XL series Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon glasses, as well as in a plain plastic cup. (The Vinum XL series was launched in 2009 and was particularly intended for New World wines.) The results were striking; each wine showed markedly better in the glass designed for its variety, while the plastic cup eliminated the aromas and minimized flavors.

The Erath Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Estate Selection 2006 (91 points, $32) from Oregon offered cherry, berry and floral aromas in the Burgundy glass, but tasted green and stemmy in the Bordeaux glass. The Sbragia Family Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso Vineyard 2005 (90, $50) was full of dark fruit and spice notes, but lost its fruit profile and showed heightened alcohol in the Burgundy glass.

When tasting, Georg and Max analyze four aspects—fruit, minerality, acidity and bitterness—and each Riedel variety-specific glass is designed to accentuate certain of those elements in the corresponding wines. For example, the Burgundy glass has a slight lip at the rim, pointing the wine to the area of the tongue where tastebuds pick up sweeter, ripe-fruit qualities.

Summing up the necessity of different glasses for different grape varieties and wine styles, Max quipped, “You cannot play a round of golf with just one club.”

Cindy Day
Suwanee, GA, USA —  November 2, 2010 11:56am ET
The presentation by Max and Georg using Riedel burgundy glass was superb! Very enlightening!
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  November 2, 2010 8:47pm ET
I didn't know how much a glass can affect how I perceive a wine until a few years ago. I think I was reading Parker's sixth edition, and he was quite adamant about the matter. So I went to BevMo and picked up some Riedel glasses for a few different varietals. After doing numerous tastings myself I unleashed some of my findings on my skeptical wife. The most shocking difference resulted from tasting a fairly young Mersault in a Bordeaux glass versus a Chardonnay glass. She had to keep tasting over and over to confirm to her mind what her palate had already told her! It was truly an a-ha experience.

Kudos to Riedel.

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