I think it is pretty safe to assume that we all know drinking from a glass is much more satisfying and a far greater experience than drinking from a recycled jam jar but does using the right glass improve the wine?
Improve the wine, no, but improve the enjoyment of the wine, absolutely. A couple of weeks ago I attended a Riedel (pronounced ‘reedle’ like ‘needle’) tasting at Casa del Vino where the focus wasn’t on the wine but on the glassware the wine was served in. While it sounds a bit poncy saying you must serve each variety of wine in the correct glass, the correct glass does make a difference to the way we taste a wine.
While the science is quite simple Riedel have dedicated decades of research to the development exquisite glassware that makes a difference to how we taste wine. In short here is how it works; different parts of our tongue taste different flavour components and a glass shaped to deliver the wine to the tongue in just the right spot changes how we experience the flavour and texture of a wine.
With sauvignon blanc for example a glass with a narrower opening at the top will deliver wine to the centre of the tongue first so we can taste the sweet fruit of the wine before the crisp acidity kicks in. If you taste the same wine from a glass with a wide opening where the wine is delivered to the whole tongue the acid totally dominates the experience and you miss out on the sweeter fruit burst.
This principle can be applied to each variety of wine, red or white.
Taking an oaky chardonnay as another example, drinking this style from a glass with a wide opening means the wine is delivered to all parts of the tongue at the same time and in this case you experience a full range of flavours at the same time. Using a glass with a narrow opening puts the focus on bitter oak components that are sensed at the back of our tongue and makes the wine taste quite bitter rather than full and rounded.
There are many other little things that make Rieldel glassware both perfect and expensive, like being made with a large component of lead crystal and they have cut and polished rims rather than chunky rolled rims so the wine pours nicely from the glass and they are beautiful to both look at and use – form and function.
Yes they are very pricy at $50+ a glass but if you look after them they will last for many years and will enhance every glass of wine you drink or you can pay a lot of money for one bottle of wine and serve it from average glassware.
My advice is buy a few Riedel glasses to suit the wine you drink most often and then have a set of good quality multi purpose glasses you can use for other wines. Ann and Mark at Casa del Vino can help you choose the right glassware for your use.
I have been drinking
Saint Clair Marlborough Riesling 2009 ($20.95)
Bursting with ripe lime and grapefruit aromas with lashings of minerality and a full citrus palate this is a true delight. That minerality and fresh but ripe acidity in the finish makes this worth putting in your shopping basket.
La Strada Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007 - $34.90 from O’Neill’s Gourmet Butchery and Deli at the Richmond Mall.
Made by those pinot geniuses at Fromm Winery this wine is a beauty. Layers of ripe spiced cherry, subtle mushroom, black liquorice and delicate oak are complimented by just enough juicy acidity to make one glass simply not enough.