On Thursday night I had the most educational wine tasting I’ve ever had! It was a Riedel Wine Tasting, which promotes the Riedel glassware, which is grape-specific.
I was very sceptical about this going into it, but have been meaning to check one of these evenings out for a few years now, so my wine-tasting buddy, my eldest brother (who is into his wines in a big way. He has a pretty decent wine cellar!) and his wife went along.
The tasting was ‘blind’ in that we didn’t know who produced the wine we tasted. As the host said, it’s not about the wine, it’s about the glasses. Each table was set up with a typical wine festival tasting glass… you know the sort, like this one:
Then we had four Riedel glasses set out, one for Sauvignon Blanc (and aromatics such as Pinot Gris, Riesling and non-oaked chardonnays); one for Chardonnay (full oak); one for Pinot Noir; and one for Merlot/Cab Sav.
The evening started off with a brief history of Riedel, which was very interesting and I suggest you check out out on their website their history. Colourful and full of drama! Then the wine tasting started and this is where it got very interesting. Firstly we tasted our Sauvignon Blanc – in the Riedel glass – just straight up to mouth quick sniff and slurp! Hmm, it was quite a nice Sav. Then we tipped our Sav into the typical tasting glass and repeated the process. This is where you had a bit of an OMG moment, and there were lots of shocked faces (and some quite disgusted ones too!). Then we tipped the wine back to the Riedel glass and let it settle for a few minutes as “we’ve just beaten up a wine!”. The final taste was to reconfirm what the first taste did – show what a wine it was.
This process was continued with each glass and their wine types. Each time the result was the same – the tasting glass just didn’t do the wine any justice at all. It turns out it’s actually quite scientific and a LOT of time goes into researching the glassware, not by Riedel but by the Wine Industry. 70% of a wine is the nose! These wine glasses are made to tip the wine to the best part of your tongue for the wine type – eg sweet, dry, etc. The different shapes of the glasses guide the wine to your palate and the shape of the glass also allows the “nose” to work. We were shown that by pinching our noses and drinking from the Riedel glass too – which was quite hilarious and I nearly choked laughing as my brother attempted this.
The host also talked about the stemless glasses, the champagne flutes and the gorgeous decanters – all very interesting and informative too.
At the end of the evening we all got to keep our set of tasting glasses, which is a good thing. I think after that tasting if I’d had to go back to my old glasses (which are okay shape and size for a sav, but doesn’t do the other grape types justice!) I’d be a little sadder drinking my wine. And drinking wine should be a happy thing! The wines were also revealed, and yes, they were all of a good quality (e.g Jules Taylor sav). However the host said while the glasses might improve your cheaper wines, they may also ‘show them up’ as well. I kind of know what he means. A friend of mine keeps her best wine for a select few – the cheaper stuff, she puts in the fridge and serves to the wider group! The fridge chills the wine down so the nose and the flavour isn’t as obvious! It’s a great trick!
Anyway, it was a great evening and quite an eye opener. I’m not saying you all should go out and buy glasses, but I do recommend that you check out a Riedel tasting if one comes up and decide for yourself. I’m no longer a skeptic – I’m a convert!