Shape of Wine

Riedel makes the case for specific glassware

By Tamara Belgard

Veritas New World Pinot Noir ##Photo Provided

What a difference a glass makes. Choosing the appropriate stemware is just as important as selecting the right wine. Is it possible for wine to actually taste better from a plastic cup than from the wrong glass? Believe it or not, it’s true.

I experienced this phenomenon during a recent Riedel stem seminar at Dobbes Family Estate in Dundee. A Riedel representative guided an eager group of individuals along a sensory journey exploring how glass shape influences our perception and enjoyment of wine. Let’s be clear, selling Riedel is not peddling snake oil. It’s about physics and science.

Riedel, based in Kufstein, a town in the Austrian state of Tyrol, has been producing quality glassware and decanters since 1756. Though the company is best known for its wine glassware, it also creates glasses specifically for spirits and for Coca-Cola, bowls and vases, all beautifully designed.

Despite their exquisite beauty, Riedel glassware is ultimately about function. For those who value premium wines, the glass becomes a tool. A combination of the bowl, rim size and width of the glass focuses the wine, directing it toward a designated location of the palate. In the correct glass, a wine’s taste can be enhanced; in the wrong one, aromas and taste can be altered or even lost all together.

Veritas Cabernet ##Photo Provided

This curiosity was vividly demonstrated to the guests at Dobbes. Seeing —or rather smelling and tasting — is believing, right? Absolutely. For example, Viognier’s aromatics and flavors practically disappeared in the Cabernet glass. And since all our senses come into play when experiencing a wine, it’s easy to understand how valuable a glass would be when paying attention to each sense.

Sound: We first hear the sound of the wine hitting the glass as it’s being poured. That sound is entirely different in a crystal glass as opposed to a plastic Solo cup.

Sight: The size of the bowl will affect how we see the wine, which is one of our first impressions. The bigger the bowl, the more spread out the liquid becomes, making it appear thinner and lighter in color.

Touch: Humans are tactile, so the glass is fire-polished for smoothness, which lends to the lightweight and luxurious feel, from stem to bowl.

Smell: Our sense of smell informs us 80 percent of what we’re about to experience before we even take a sip. The varied size opening of each glass will either enhance or detract from any given wine.

Veritas Old World Syrah ##Photo Provided

Taste: The shape of a glass affects the delivery of the wine to various parts of the palate, changing people’s perception of acid and tannins.

Veritas New World Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a finicky grape both in the vineyard and the cellar, so it’s picky about its glass, too. The New World Pinot Noir Glass — formerly called the Oregon Pinot Noir Glass — features a curve at the top that kicks up a wine’s acidity. It also makes the

tongue curl a bit to focus the wine to the front of the palate. The long stem encourages one to hold it by the stem and not the bowl so as not to warm the wine. Also perfect for Nebbiolo, sparkling rosé, Barolo and others.

Veritas Old World Syrah

Shaped to bring out the wine’s herbaceous aromatics, the Old World Syrah Glass also deepens the color of the wine. On the palate, it magnifies the wine’s silky, velvety structure and balanced flavors. The tannins melt into the fruit, appearing sweet rather than acerbic on the back palate. Also perfect for Carménère, Pinotage, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Tannat and others.

Veritas Viognier

Veritas Viognier ##Photo Provided

This classic glass allows young wines to express freshness and more mature wines to unveil nutty, spicy, mineral flavors. In this glass, low acidity can set off the alcohol and rich flavors while highlighting Viognier’s soft, supple texture. The shape also emphasizes the fruit and a long, balanced finish. Also perfect for Chardonnay (unoaked) Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc (oaked), Melon de Bourgogne, Marsanne and more.

Veritas Cabernet

This glass showcases well-structured red wines in all their complexity and finesse, delivering the wine all over your palate. Specially engineered with an indent on the bottom of the bowl, the glass reflects the light, adding another dimension to the lively color of the wine. Also perfect for Merlot and Bordeaux-style blends.

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