Posted: Saturday, 24 December 2022 13:50
From Archives (2004): Riddle From Riedel
This was the first company in history that did research on the shape and size of the glass and the effect it had on the alcohol and smell perception in wine. Different grape varieties have different aromas. It conducted studies that showed that different shapes are best suited for different wines. For example, the Burgundy glass is wider and narrower than a Bordeaux glass, and both are bigger in size than a white wine glass. Each glass is designed to help entrap the maximum aromas generated by the swirling of glass, giving maximum pleasure of wine drinking.
It has been well recognized that the glass should be light so you can feel the weight of wine only, clear and rimless to evaluate and enjoy the colour of wine and it should be long stemmed to enable proper swirling. Size of the glass has been kept so that only a third to one fourth needs to be filled to help wine breathe properly. Their Sommelier Series glasses cost a princely $50 each whereas the Vinum series are more suitable to earthlings at $15. Both are made from lead crystal and can last for your grandchildren, if handled with care. They have earned such a reputation that I have not seen many wine producers use a non-Riedel glass for tasting in any Show.
So what is the riddle? Well, firstly they came out with a Restaurant series of glasses in plain glass and a wider and balanced base a couple of years ago, costing $5 a piece, quite affordable by an average wine lover in India. But here is the catch. They are sold only to restaurants and not consumers, anywhere in the world. There are not many consumers who would spend over Rs. 1000 per glass but there is a huge market for proper glasses in the 300-500 range, what with the awakening of Indian consumers. Spiegelau, a German glass company makes a series of glasses that fall into this range; their Vino Grande series is widely acclaimed as second only to Riedel. Waterford and another German company, Schott Zwiesel are also popular glasses in this range.
The more perplexing riddle is the recent introduction of a new series called O series. These are plain glasses with similar shape as the Vinum series but flat and without the stem and base and cost about $5 each. The reasoning advanced by the producers is that the stem makes the glasses very fragile and these new glasses will be dishwasher safe. To my mind this is the anti-thesis to what the wine world has been singing about in recent years. If the shape of the glass helps the olfactory senses, the stem is basic to swirling, which is equally important to bring the ethers out in the open.
The argument does not make any sense. Perhaps, it creates a new market for Riedel but does it mean an end to the stemware era? Only time will tell. I certainly hope not. Meanwhile, hold on to your Riedel, Spiegelau, Waterford (Plain) or Schott Zwiesel wineglass collection and pass on those cut glass Bohemians with heavy bases and wide rims to your less-favourite cousins.
P.S.-Coincidentally, the inventor and promoter of this concept of glass shape and flavour of wines, Mr. Claus Riedel passed away on 17th March, at the age of 79. Our condolences to the family. Subhash Arora Mar 28, 2004
Note- This Article has been taken from the website of Delhi Wine Club- www.delhiwineclub.com that I founded in 2002 along with this website. delWine started being sent out only in April 2006. I used to publish my Articles on this site till then. Subhash Arora