Drinking fabulous wine is an experience you want to savour, but did you know the glassware you drink from is as important as what’s being poured in it? Riedel develop and produce glasses to make sure your drinking pleasure is the best it can be.
I love Billecart Salmon Champagne and at home would usually serve champagne from champagne flutes but for the first time in my experience, this bubble-fuelled liquid was served in a larger glass. The crystal glassware manufacturers have developed an industry first, a Champagne Wine Glass which allows the drinker to enjoy either Blanc de Blanc or Cuvée to its full potential. The glass lets the aromas develop and allows, what they call a ‘sparkling point’, to help form bubbles which I guess is one of the main points of drinking Champagne, no? The wider rim also means the drinker can breathe in the scent and can also use the glass for Chardonnay and Champagne cocktails. I managed to sneak my glass downstairs to the private room, it’s the one on the left here.
I’m a guest at a lunch being hosted by Georg Riedel whose family have traded in glass for 300 years and have produced glassware in their own Austrian factories for 260 years.
I took part in a simple, but eye-opening demonstration using not wine, but water, ice-cold water.
In front of the assembled group there are three glasses, all 790ml, all able to hold one bottle of wine. A single serving of water, equal to a glass of wine, is poured in each. Obviously water is flavourless but the cold water reached different parts of the mouth with each glass.
The design of the Pinot Noir glass with its obvious lip, ensures the tongue lifts and the underside of the palate is exposed. If there were wine in the glass, it’s now that the smell would be more noticeable.
In the Syrah glass, the water rushed to the back of the mouth, a narrower rim meant the drinker’s head has to work harder to initiate the wine flow against gravity.
The Cabernet glass was a veritable shower in comparison, swooshing the water all over the palate.
The experiment showed that the same flavour profiles spread to completely different parts of the palate which in turn triggered a different perception. Add food, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Adding the wine to the glasses, really rammed the message home.
We ate chard salmon with a smoked potato mousseline; a beef short rib rissole and a double chocolate torte. High Timber is a restaurant specialising in South African cuisine on the Thames and so we had the pick from their cellar stuffed with South African wines.
The Pinot was from Hamilton Russell Vineyard in Hermanus and served with the Salmon. Drinking it from the Pinot glass meant the flavours on the plate tasted totally balanced and the salmon was sweet.
Drinking from the Syrah glass with a mouthful from the same plate made the salmon taste over-salted and from the Cabernet glass the same experience made the dish taste totally unbalanced. We tried this experiment with each wine, in the three glasses and each yielded a totally different result.
A Syrah from Jordan Wines in Stellenbosch was poured for the short rib and another wine from the same vineyard, Cobblers Hill a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, for torte.
The underlying message here is that Riedel have it spot on, and we’ve just experienced it, each of the glasses worked with the wine and flavour profiles, the glass totally in control of the flow of liquid and each glass and its content had an impact on the palate. Each of the three red wine glasses worked perfectly with the wines in them and the paired food.
Decanters were designed by the French for their Champagne, in the early stages of production, there was a huge problem with sediment and decanting the wine helped to remove it. And, today the reasons for decanting haven’t changed. To remove any sediment and to allow the wine to mix with the air, removing dormant CO2 gas and allowing the wine to mix with the air. The Riedel Decanters are works of art, designed to look architecturally beautiful but also doing the job they’re supposed to. Easy to clean with distilled water and easier to pour and maintain than the Ship’s Decanter I use.
Riedel continues to be a family concern with Georg’s son Maximillian in day-to-day charge of the operation and his daughter the company Lawyer. Georg’s charming wife joined him on the trip and shows me she carries her own wine glass, inscribed with her name, wherever she goes. I want one.
Georg tells me that his glassware can go into the dishwasher and whilst I believe him, it’s like him telling me to wear my prized Louboutins in the rain – it’s just not going to happen. I love my Riedel glasses too much.
Riedel glassware is available in all major department stores and online.
Riedel is available in most major department stores and online.
I was a guest of Riedel and thank them for allowing me to take the three glasses home.