Riedel Glassware – The Difference between Sand & Velvet

Late last year I was lucky enough to attend a unique tasting with Maximilian Riedel. He flew into Dublin to demonstrate how choosing the right glass can make an incredible impact on your wine, and even on your food. We sat down to an assortment of five different glasses and three different wines. Being in business for 260 years Riedel have refined their designs to maximise the taste and texture of wine. I was always aware that certain glasses work better for certain wines and that having a decanter can aid your enjoyment of your wine but not to the extent that Max showed us. I was really stunned.

Riedel is the definition of Grape Varietal Specific. They have dedicated their products to individual varieties, regions and countries. They have designed their glasses to maximise the enjoyment of your wine even to the point of gauging where the wine will hit your palate as you take a sip.

We started with an oaked chardonnay (Kershaw €44.95), a wine I really enjoy. In the first glass it was dumb and lack lustre on the nose and slightly bitter on the palate, which would make you think it wasn’t an impressive wine but in glass two, a specific ‘Oaked Chardonnay’ glass, the wine sang with grace and elegance. If tasted blind, most people would swear they were two different wines, the first being a badly made wine you wouldn’t want to get again and the second being a real treat. It has to be mentioned that we were always present when the wines were poured.

Maximilian then demonstrated further with a charming pinot noir. Once again the difference was drastic, in the right glass the fruit sang beautifully and there was little tannin to speak of but in the other two glasses we tasted from, the wine was dusty and dumb with grippy bitter tannins.

With the pinot we were given a lovely piece of vanilla infused white chocolate from Lindt. We were advised to let the chocolate melt on our tongue then taste the wine again from each glass. A beautiful piece of chocolate that I greatly enjoyed with the pinot from the last glass but, with the wrong glass, it was really unpleasant (and that’s being kind). Here Max was not only demonstrating how wine does not show well in the wrong glass but also how it hampers your enjoyment of food.

The third and final wine, a big block buster cabernet from Napa, was again poured into three glasses after being aerated a little. In the ‘Big Boy’ glass this wine was big, supple and had an intriguing aroma. As you can imagine, in the other glasses the wine was quite tannic, bitter and tasted rather cheap.


It was a real eye opening tasting for the entire room which was packed with restaurateurs. It demonstrated how someone can have a memorable experience and really enjoy their meal with the right tools. If I wasn’t convinced before, I am now.

Try the Riedel challenge yourself. Next time you open a bottle take two very different shaped glasses and taste the difference.

Riedel glassware is available from Mitchells & Sons.


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