Over the course of his 47-years working in his family business, 10th generation Georg Riedel has become the father of functional glassware. As the creator of varietal specific wine glasses, Georg strongly believes that a finely tuned glass enhances the sensory perception of all aromatic beverages. Now, Georg introduces his swansong series to the world: RIEDEL Winewings.
The origins of something revolutionary
In the Northern Summer of 2018, in the hot and sunny Tyrolean Alps, Georg was asked by a customer to create the ultimate glass for the “King of Grapes”: Cabernet Sauvignon. His task was helped by the fact that he had long loved this wine variety. With passion, enthusiasm, and a coffee in hand, Georg made a start.
He began by sketching the old-fashioned way, as he had done at the start of his career. He aimed to design something that would be both revolutionary and supremely functional, knowing this would likely be the last glass series of his incredible and illustrious career. Georg wished to create a collection that would eschew the egg-shaped bowl developed by his father, 9th generation Claus Riedel, and challenge the perception of modern functional wine glasses while still respecting the 2000-year-old art of glassblowing.
Following 12 months of tastings and changes to shape, size and rim diameter, Georg’s single glass for Cabernet developed into seven shapes for the most popular grape varietals, and a completely new shape emerged. This innovative series is a symbolic shift in aesthetic for the RIEDEL brand, moving away from his father’s original Sommeliers series shapes, and towards a new era of purposeful glassware. Flat-bottomed and reminiscent of an aircraft wing, complete with winglets, RIEDEL Winewings was born and about to take flight!
Why does RIEDEL Winewings have a flat bottom?
While not the most visually beautiful collection, RIEDEL Winewings is “brutally functional, taking the wine’s aromas and flavours on a flight,” Georg says.
As he explains: “I chose a flat and stretched bottom with a wing-like shape as it increases the surface area of the wine exposed to oxygen. This leads to greater levels of evaporation and enables a greater intensity of aroma.
“When positioning one’s head to the glass, the nose is closer to the exposed and wider surface of the wine. This alone would not fully deliver the optimal aroma of each grape variety so, to capture the delicate layered aromas, it was necessary to curve the glass walls and to correctly calibrate the opening of each glass with its rim diameter.”
The impact of this new shape is a collection for the true wine connoisseur. For the first time, the RIEDEL Winewings glasses primarily emphasise the minerality of the wine where other collections have tended to highlight fruit. The collection is therefore ideal for the ultimate wine lover, who prefers wines with depth and complexity.
A series to honour the dedication of the world’s winemakers
Each grape has its own demands, strengths, weaknesses, and carries its own varietal expression (DNA). The vintner must take into account a variety of environmental factors including geography, geology, climate, and all the variables that combine into the concept of terrior like altitude, soil composition, and exposure to sun.
Then it comes to the winemaking; the human intervention as grape juice, with the help of yeast, is turned into wine. Should the wine be kept in stainless steel, matured in oak, should it undergo malolactic fermentation? The winemaker’s hand can generate a whole spectrum of flavours.
For Georg, the glassmaker, the question is whether his creations can improve the perception of that wine. RIEDEL Winewings includes seven glasses in total and, while the differences between them look minor, the overall impact on the wine is impressive. The glasses adhere to the Grape Varietal Specific philosophy more than any RIEDEL series ever produced, having as adverse an effect on the incorrect varieties as they cause the intended varieties to sing.
Why the Grape Varietal Specific philosophy still matters
Georg first introduced this philosophy to the wine world in 1986, with his groundbreaking series Vinum that featured glasses designed specifically for certain wine varieties. The complexity behind the philosophy comes from the decades of research and development into what role the wine glass plays in enjoyment.
As to why different glasses are required to give the best experience, Georg says, “You must taste the difference for yourself and then decide.” Sceptics are encouraged to try their favourite wine from the correct Grape Varietal Specific glass and from a generic wine glass. According to Georg: “The satisfaction derived from the specific glass will certainly make you believe you drink the better wine.”
“Consider the glass as the key to unlock the emotions captured in every bottle of wine,” he says. “Or perhaps, more technically, view the glass as an instrument which helps you to enjoy and appreciate your precious wine.”
Without doubt, RIEDEL Winewings is a true testament and symbol of Georg’s lifelong dedication to creating instruments for greater wine enjoyment.
Want to learn more?
Head over to the RIEDEL Winewings page to find out more about the seven glasses from the RIEDEL Winewings collection and the new Winewings Decanter.