If you would have told me that the wine glass itself can have a major influence on the taste of the wine — fruity, acid, tannins — I would have told you it was fake news. But after trying one red and one white wine each in three different wine glasses, I’m a believer. But, you may think, having many different glasses can be expensive, not to think of the cabinet space required (some are 10 inches tall). Even if you don’t buy a wine tasting set, I discovered good reasons to be in the know.
My “instructor” was Maximilian Riedel, the eleventh generation of the Austrian wine glass company his family founded. In fact, his grandfather was the person in 1957 who came up with a narrow lipped wine glass, replacing the previous standard of a glass whose lip fanned out, first introducing the concept of varietal specific wine glasses..
So before I get into the tasting, you may want to know why you might be interested in the wine glass phenomenon. Let’s say you usually drink a Tempranillo or Prosecco at home, you can buy the appropriate glass for each. How will you know which of Riedel’s varietal specific glasses is the right choice? If you go to the Riedel website, you type in the name of the wine you drink and the site will recommend the best glass for that grape style. And certainly, now when I go to fine restaurants, you better believe I’ll pay attention to the glasses they use.
We used five different glasses representing different varietals — an “all purpose” white wine glass that you usually get at tastings, one for oaked chardonnay, another for pinot noir, a fourth for syrah, and the final, the sexy new “Winewings” with a flat bottom and indentation on both sides which looks like it’s for the fingers to hold it. Interesting to note that the Winewings was designed for the more full bodied, powerful wines of the past ten years, where acidity is prized over fruitiness. This is the basic wine tasting set that works for most wines. The key is the shape of the glass and diameter of the rim because it is these designs in the glassware that concentrate and deliver specific aromas and flavors to different parts of the palate. Actually they make hundreds of different wine glasses, handmade and machine made besides custom ones for the likes of Coca Cola, Nespresso, Dom Perignon and the wine growers of the country of Georgia (where I learned on one of my trips, there are more varieties of grapes than anywhere else in the world.)
You can buy different tasting sets for prices ranging from $103.50
to $140 for The Winewings set.
Besides wine glasses, Riedel makes cocktail glasses and decanters, and one of their glasses is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
What does the expert say about cleaning wine glasses? You can put them into a dishwasher and then polish them if you want to go the full mile (they sell the cloths too).
For more information on Riedel experience and the glassware and decanters they create, visit Riedel.com.