A wine glass does more than simply serve as a holding vessel for
wine. The founders of Riedel stemware viewed the wine glass as an
instrument to bring together:
-The personality of the wine.
-The smell of the wine.
-The taste of the wine.
-The appearance of the wine.
The shape of the glass is responsible for the quality and
intensity of the bouquet and the flow of the wine. The initial contact
point depends on the shape and volume of the glass, the diameter of the
rim, its finish (be it cut-and-polished or rolled- edge), as well as
the thickness of the crystal.
As your put your wine glass to your lips, your tastebuds are on
the alert. The wine flow is directed onto the appropriate taste zones
of your palate, leading to different taste “pictures.” Once your tongue
is in contact with the wine, three messages are transmitted at the same
time: temperature, texture and taste.
The size of the glass also is important because it impacts the
quality and intensity of the aromas. The breathing space has to be
chosen according to the “personality” of the wine. Red wines require
large glasses, while white wines require medium-sized glasses.
We once attended a gathering of Napa Valley and Sonoma County
winemakers at which Georg Riedel provided a demonstration which clearly
illustrated how a wine can taste very good in one glass and not good at
all in another – simply because of the shape and volume of the glass.
At various intervals, winemakers sat in stunned silence as they
experienced aromas and flavors either disappearing or becoming vegetal
as a wine was transferred from a proper glass to an improper glass for
the particular varietal.
Noted one winemaker: “It’s kind of scary to think that our wine
may taste like this when it’s presented to the public in our tasting
room. This wine doesn’t taste anything at all like it did right out of
the barrel, or like it did in the correct glass we had just a moment
Winemakers are skeptics by nature, so to see such an esteemed
group react in this way proved that when it comes to wine glasses,
size… and shape… do count.