How on earth can a wine glass make wine taste better? I went along to Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms to find out.
One of the most important facts I learnt when I spent a week at The Glenrothes distillery learning to make whisky, was not about the whisky at all, but the type of glass you should drink from. Ronnie Cox, Brand Ambassador showed us how conventional wine tumblers (you know, the cut crystal ones you got as a wedding present) did no favours to the whisky. The all important aromas were missing. A whisky tasting glass is curved to stop the flavours escaping. You could actually smell more aromas in an empty glass than the straight sided one
But could a glass enhance a wine varietal? I leapt at the chance to attend the Riedel event that recently took place in Edinburgh.
The Assembly Rooms were looking stunning, especially set up for the tasting with Riedel’s black and red branding. Each position was set up with 3 wine glasses (complete with box to take them home in); tumblers of wine; bottle of iced water and two small boxes labelled Do not eat (shades of Alice in Wonderland?).
Our presenter for the night was Georg Riedel who is the 10th generation Riedel in the glass making business.
We first drank water from each glass whilst Georg guided us through which part of our tongue first felt the cold, cold water. He then explained how it is both taste and smell that enhances our enjoyment of wine.
Now the astonishing part. We poured some wine from one of the tumblers into each glass and smelled the bouquet of each one in turn. If I hadn’t poured the wine myself I would have sworn it was different wine in each glass. With one glass the smell was fruity with another it was hard to pick up any aroma at all.
When we combined smelling the bouquet with tasting the wine, the result was even more remarkable. In one glass the wine tasted flat and almost sour, but with the glass designed for that wine variety, it tasted full, rounded and fruity! This was proved again and again with the Pinot Noir glass, the Cabernet Sauvignon glass and the Shiraz glass.
We then tried the wines with chocolate from those Do not eat boxes . The words “until we say so” were missed off! Tasting chocolate with the wine in the glasses was to give an idea of what happens when you match wine with food. the chocolate further helped emphasise the flavours, the white chocolate best with the Pinot Noir, the dark with the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Was I convinced? Very much so!
Now you might be thinking – this is going to be expensive having to have a different glass for each wine. Indeed, whilst waiting for the event to begin I overheard one guy saying he owned 100 Riedel glasses (100?). There are definitely a huge number of Riedel fan – read the article by the Telegraph’s Victoria Moore on her obsession.
However, Georg explained that, using the 3 glasses as an example, there’s the right one, the compromise and the wrong one for each varietal. For red wine, you won’t go far wrong with the Shiraz glass as a starting point as this also suits other types such as Malbec. There are various price points for the glasses so you don’t need to go for the hand blown glasses to start with!
Yes, I did succumb. I’m enjoying finding the true flavours with my Shiraz glasses – fantastic to enhance my favourite wine even more!
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