Friday, 28 September 2012

When It Comes To The Wine Glass, Shape Really Matters

Riedel Vitis Comparative Wine Glass Tasting, by Nina Koo-Seen-Lin.

I drink wine in any vessel I can get my hands on, be it the typical wine glass at a trendy wine bar or my favourite mug from my kitchen cupboard. Hell, I’ve even just pulled the cork out with my teeth and glugged away from the bottle itself.

So, I was curious to hear what Georg Riedel had to say about wine glasses and how the shape of them can affect the aroma and, more importantly, the taste.

Everyone from polished and prim Penelope to raucous rah-boy Rupert is there. One dude has really dressed up for the occasion and is wearing a boating jacket. The event is being held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The room smells of red wine and the private education system. It’s a little too much for me so I resort to sitting outside the ladies loo with a steward for the next 30 minutes until the tasting class commences.

When it does I’m ushered to Row R, Seat 330 (right on the end). Before me is a paper mat with three Riedel Vitis glasses (0403/07, 0403/30, and 0403/0), three plastic cups of red wine (Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet), and a bottle of water. “Today you are going to learn very little about wine but a lot about wine service,” Mr Georg Riedel, our host for the evening, informs us. The tasting commences with everyone drinking from the (water) bottle because we need to cleanse our palette completely.

“We are dealing with physics, ladies and gentleman,” continues Georg Riedel. The right shape of glass can make all the difference to how the wine tastes. The Vitis glassware is designed on the basis that each grape variety have their own exceptional characteristics and it aims to translate a wine’s message to the human senses. The shape, size and the rim diameter of the bowl is taken into account. Machine-blown in Bavaria, Germany, Vitis glassware is executed in lead crystal. They are rather magnificent glasses before me. But do they really change the taste of a wine?

The answer is a big fat wine splotched yes. Testing each of the three wine in each of the glasses there is a significant difference. Here’s the results table:

Wine – Pinot Noir 0403/07 (winner) 0403/0 (loser)

Wine - Syrah/Shiraz 0403/30 (winner) 0403/0 (loser)

At this point it’s obvious to us all that glass 0403/0 is a troublemaker – so far it’s proven to be only good for drinking water as the narrow rim of the glass makes the liquid fall every part of the tongue. I think a good Cabernet wine also suits this glass (I’ve hastily had to pop to the loo at this point so I may have missed something).

I gather that glass 0403/30 is a good substitute if you don’t know what glass to use or indeed you don’t have the right one. Georg stands at the front of the room. Everyone gazes at him with slightly glazed eyes. Any cynics who doubted his beliefs have converted. We all much munch on pieces of Lindt chocolate while he takes questions from the floor.

Why have we looked at red wine and not white wine asks a young chap. “Because I wanted to look at red wine,” Georg responds. No further explanation is required. This man is a modern-day Dionysius. Forget the lords and ladies. I’ve just been in the presence of a merry-making God.

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