If you've ever done a RIEDEL tasting with us and discovered that your glassware is the key to wine, you may now be a proud wine glass snob. Having stacked your cupboards with the right ones for all your favourite varieties, have you ever noticed a new shape for one of the varieties you already own and wondered why it's changed? Find out below!
OUR VARIETAL GLASSES STAND THE TEST OF TIME
The shape and size of every glass have an impact on your perception of a wine's aroma and taste. Our very first Grape Varietal Specific series, Sommeliers, was released in 1973 and was the foundation of what we began to learn about functional glassware.
Since then, we have continually tested and researched the shapes we developed to understand how the three key variables – shape, size and rim diameter – communicate a beverage's flavour profile. We have gone on to develop specific glasses for everything from spirits, cocktails, coffee, soft drinks and even water, using these same principles.
Over the past 60 years, most of the original shapes have withstood regular testing and continue to work perfectly as designed. While our collections may feature differences in the style and size of the stem and base - and even the removal of the stem with the introduction of Maximilian Riedel's groundbreaking O Wine Tumbler in 2004 - the bowl shapes have primarily stayed the same.
HOW THE INDUSTRY INFLUENCES SHAPE
So when do we re-test our glasses and introduce new shapes? Climate, terroir, modern winemaking techniques, or even trend, can lead to a change in the style of a variety. We are often approached by regional wine bodies or world-leading wineries, who request that we visit their region and assess their varietal style against our existing portfolio.
By conducting numerous workshops across the world, our research teams may learn that the same variety from different regions shows slightly different attributes. These findings influence the next evolution of a glass, accommodating for the small positive changes these new shapes make to wines from different regions.
The sum of all this is that we invest hours of research and development into every RIEDEL Grape Varietal Specific glass to give you, the wine lovers, the best possible experience. We've put together a couple of examples to provide you with an idea of how this process works.
Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru: Affectionately known as the Mother of All Glasses, this was the very first glass RIEDEL designed to suit a specific style of wine. Introduced in 1958, it features a wide bowl with a slightly flared lip to provide the drinker with a perfectly balanced and structured picture of red Burgundy.
Vinum Pinot Noir: Georg Riedel debuted the Vinum range in 1986 with this newly designed shape (now also known as Old World Pinot Noir or Burgundy Red). This glass features a defined tulip shape with a smaller rim opening to cater to a more global expression of these varieties, offering the same experience as its handmade predecessor.
Vinum XL Oregon Pinot Noir: Georg worked with a panel of winemakers, sommeliers and wine writers from Oregon US to develop this shape (now known as New World Pinot Noir). The workshop results lead to the introduction of a tulip with a tapered lip in 2010, which brought forward fruity aromas while accentuating the velvety texture and softening the edges on the palate. Tony Rynders, formerly of Domaine Serene, described it as "the right vehicle to show off our wines, and the winemakers and wine professionals involved unanimously agreed that it made an enormous difference."
Extreme Central Otago Pinot Noir: After travelling to New Zealand at the request of the Central Otago Winemakers, Georg began developing a glass to capture the country's specific style of Pinot Noir. This new shape combined the angular Extreme Pinot Noir bowl with the New World Pinot Noir flared lip, endorsed by industry leaders including Rudi Bauer from Quartz Reef Wines. This glass will be exclusively available to the New Zealand market as part of RIEDEL Veritas in early 2021 and will arrive in stemless in late 2021!
Sommeliers Hermitage: In 1994, Georg made a discovery while visiting the Ampius cellar of the infamous Rhone producer, E. Guigal. Though recommended for Syrah, the Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru glass did not fully accentuate the characters of Guigal's Hermitage. Over a series of workshops spanning various regional styles for this variety, Georg debuted a collection of experimental shapes to expert tasters from France, England, Australia, and North America. The shape now labelled as the Hermitage or Old World Syrah glass emerged as the winner for this Old World style from Europe, endorsed by both Marcel and Philippe Guigal.
Vinum Syrah/Shiraz: That same year, Georg was introduced to Australia's distinctive style of Shiraz and realised that it, too, was missing its ideal glass within the current RIEDEL portfolio. Through the same series of workshops, a second successful shape emerged: the Vinum Shiraz glass for the New World style.
Extreme Shiraz: A decade later Georg returned to Australia at the bequest of iconic winery Penfolds, who wanted the brand to workshop a glass for their specific wine style. A cast of Australian winemaking names, including Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago and Andrew Caillard MW, selected the Extreme Shiraz glass as the winner. With its angular lines and tapered opening, it highlighted and harmonised the fruit-driven profile and regional character of their wines.