This week I had the pleasure of attending a presentation of Riedel wine glasses including a tasting of several wines, at Morton’s the Steakhouse in Manhattan. The purpose of the tasting and presentation was to demonstrate how the use of a proper wine glass enhances the experience of drinking each particular wine.
Many people are skeptical of whether the shape or quality of the wine glass has any effect on the appearance, aroma, and flavor of the wine - in fact, the Riedel representative posed the question to the people in attendance as to whether they were at all skeptical about how a glass effects the overall wine experience. But after a very short amount of time, it was clear that a good quality and properly shaped wine glass indeed affects the wine experience.
|Riedel Wine Glass Tasting at Morton’s The Steakhouse|
Since a tasting should begin with the lightest wine of the evening, the first wine we tasted was the Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, and the glass was the Riedel Vinum Sauvignon Blanc. The glass is egg shaped and the top is a bit tapered, so that the aromas typical of Sauvignon Blanc - light fruits and flowers - are enhanced, and the wine is directed to the front of the tongue and palate, which makes the flavors and bright acidity characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc become more apparent.
We were also asked to sample the same Sauvignon Blanc from the “joker” glass, a small plastic cup which completely detracted from the aromas, and over-emphasized the acidity. Clearly, a plastic cup is not suited for drinking good wine, or any wine for that matter. I think that much was clear before we even began the tasting, but after analyzing the Sauvignon Blanc in its proper glass and experiencing all of the aromas and flavors one would expect from the varietal, one could already be persuaded to invest in appropriate Riedel glasses for a variety of wines. And there were still three more wines to try, in three different glasses.
The next wine was the Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, a white with more body than the Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was served in the Riedel Vinum Chardonnay Montrachet glass, with a large bowl and a very wide rim, best suited for accentuating the wine’s fuller and more intense characteristics, including the buttery, rich, caramelized notes of the Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay. Had the Chardonnay been tasted from the narrower, egg-shaped glass, the full bodied wine would have lost its rich character.
We then moved on to the reds, the first of which was the Villa Maria Cellar Selection
Pinot Noir, with fruit characteristics and gentle tannins. The glass was the Riedel Vinum Pinot Noir Red Burgundy, with a large bowl perfect for bringing out the Pinot Noir’s fruity aromas, and the tapered rim aiming the wine at the front of the tongue to perceive the sweeter characteristics of the wine and softening the perception of acid, making for a proper balance in the flavors and textures. If the wine were tasted from a glass that looks similar (the Montrachet glass) but without the tapered rim, the aromas will be preserved, but the flavors will be misdirected, causing the wine to display too much acidity, and masking the fruit flavors characteristic of Pinot Noir - clearly the Pinot Noir must be tasted in a glass with the large bowl, but with the narrower rim.
The final wine of the tasting event was the Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a tannic, full bodied red with notes of dark fruits. The glass was the Riedel Vinum Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, with a deep bowl ideal for bringing out the many layers of aromas in Bordeaux varietals, that tapers to a narrower rim, again directing the wine to the areas of the mouth that detect sweetness, allowing the wine to show its fruit, instead of only displaying the tannins.
After tasting the wines in the Riedel glasses for which they were intended, it was clear that a wine enthusiast hoping to maximize the experience of the wines should invest in good quality, properly shaped glasses. The hosts of the event were so gracious as to send their guests home with a set of complimentary Riedel glasses, one of each of the glasses we used during the tasting. My glasses of choice are Riedel, and the glasses of the Vinum collection are relatively affordable - it is certainly worth investing in these glasses to better enjoy your wine experiences.