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Wine Glasses the Info

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

What Is The Best Wine Glass For Enjoying Wine ? Remember the days when were all content to sip from a fat-lipped, sturdy, sensible wine glass…the kind that you could drop on a tile floor and it would just bounce?  Maximilian Riedel, the 11th generation of famed Riedel glassmaker and CEO of Riedel Crystal America, likes to call those ‘joker glasses,’ and he has a point.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

We probably shouldn’t be sipping good wine from utilitarian vessels. Traveling the world, preaching the gospel of using proper stemware, Mr. Riedel is indeed a true believer. Rightfully so, his family company is responsible for something a revolution in the wine glass business. Notes Riedel, “There is so much more to wine than a price and a good looking bottle; you need to have the right tools as well.” And the most important tool is the wine glass.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

Yet this begs the question, does the wine glass matter that much?  And which wine glass?  The glass does matter, and you need not take my word for it, or Mr. Riedel’s. Simply try this at home: pour your favorite wine in a coffee cup, a rocks glass and a nice wine stem. You should experience the fullest range of taste from the thin-lipped, svelte profile of a proper wine glass that allows room for swirling, because air is wine’s best friend. If your wine is crammed into a tiny bowl, an oddly shaped mug or, heaven forbid, a Red Solo cup, well, you’ll miss out on the nuances in aroma and taste.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

Which reminds me of a story several years ago I arrived at a dinner party with a magnum of Pommery Champagne. It was a gift to me from none other than the Prince of Pommery, Alain de Polignac…so I felt a little bit like a big deal and was darn proud to share such a treat. Alas, the party hostess was possessed of a passion for disposable stemware, plates and cutlery and we were offered nothing less than the finest plastic cups for enjoying my bottle of precious bubbly. It was a character-building moment for me. I inhaled, smiled cheerfully and raised my shiny plastic cup full of $100 Champagne, knowing the moment could have been so much finer if we’d busted out the real stemware. But, one moves on.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

And yet, most of us cannot afford to purchase a wine stem for every grape varietal (currently Riedel offers wine glasses for everything from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon). To get started, Riedel suggests two strategies:

  1. Buy the varietal specific glass of the varietal you enjoy the most and built your collection from there. If you love Pinot Noir, buy a Pinot Noir glass, for example.
  2. Spend approx. the same amount of money per glass that you do on your bottle of wine.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

Thinking outside the box a bit is useful too as Riedel even admits to drinking “Pinot Noir based Champagnes from Pinot Noir glasses.”  Vajra Stratigos, wine and beverage director for Atlanta-based Fifth Group Restaurants, loves to drink all bubbles from wide-mouthed wine glasses. “You have to try it,” he gushes, “The bubbles are just so much more ferocious with a wider lip.”

Master Sommelier and sommelier for Delta Air Lines, Andrea Robinson grew so frustrated with the ‘which stem for what wine’ conversation that she set out to make The one perfect stem for all reds and one perfect stem for all whites. Robinson spent over three years developing the prototypes for her glasses. “Tasting comes from smelling and so many of these varietally specific glasses are based on where the wine lands on your tongue. In this way they are not always successful.”  After years of tastings and research, Robinson concluded that the two best shapes to start from were Pinot Noir glasses for reds and Sauvignon Blanc glasses for whites.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

“Each style offered aeration on the bottom and a smaller opening on top; we tweaked the vertical depth and a few other things to achieve The One’s design.” Robinson does give credit where it’s due though, “I give Riedel major credit for educating the public about that a difference a good glass makes.”

Indeed, Riedel does put some love into every wine glass they make. It almost seems a bit lavish and overly scientific, but the fans love it. “We see glass as an instrument designed to highlight specifics from the DNA of all grape varieties. Our stems are designed in taste workshops, not on computers or on a drawing pad.” Maximilian likes to point out.  In a typical workshop, the team uses different vintages of the wine (let’s say Malbec) pouring them into 20 or 30 different existing Riedel stems. The tasters (generally winemakers, producers and experts on the wine in question) taste the selections and identify three or four stems that bring out the varietal’s best qualities. “Based on whatever glasses have made the final cut, we begin to craft prototypes. Over the course of several months, the tasters will taste from each one until everyone in the room will agree this is how they envision the wine.”

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

Riedel confesses to having a favorite stem—and for good reason. “My favorite glass has an emotional connection; it’s the first varietally specific glass ever created (by my grandfather), a pinot noir glass (the Riedel Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru / Pinot Noir Wine Glass) which holds 37 ounces, more than a single bottle. His other fave?  The Vinum Excel which was originally developed to compliment Oregon Pinot Noir. “I like this shape for many reasons; it’s a multi-tasking glass. Even the cellar master at Dom Perignon uses it for their rosé vintage Champagnes.

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

Today there are as many stem options as there are wines. Schott Zwiesel’s Tritan line boasts a surface finish meant to strengthen the wine glass—ideal for keeping inebriated party-goers from breaking the glasses. They are also promoting a completely new tasting glass with something called ‘Airome’, which according to the website is “an integrated aroma wave, “ designed to allow more room in the glass for the wine to breathe.  Indeed, the debate these days is more about which stem one should purchase and whether or not the wine stem should match the type of wine.  As is so often the case with the fruit of the vine, that answer is personal. Riedel summed it up best when I asked him what every good wine stem should have, without hesitation he said, “Good wine to share.”

Which Wine Glass is Best ?

Oh, and the most important rule of them all?  Wash the wine glasses the next day, not after you’ve emptied the bottle.

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