Wine masterclass reveals why the shape of your wine glass matters
You can detect green bell pepper in your Sauvignon Blanc. You can estimate the vintage of a Cabernet with almost pinpoint precision. But do you know the difference between a rolled rim and cut rim glass, not to mention why it matters?
Those are the questions Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar wants wine connoisseurs to consider. This Austrian maker of fine crystal glassware might be best known in Bangkok for its eponymous wine bar and restaurant in Gaysorn Village, which stocks over 200 labels in its cellar, and serves 40 wines by the glass from its showpiece wine dispenser. Operating a successful bar-restaurant is not exactly the end brand’s game, however. The venue doubles as a pulpit for preaching the gospel of premium glassware.
In the final week of May, Riedel organized a masterclass to demonstrate the power that glass has over the flavour and aroma of different wines. When a wine glassware brand seeks to validate its products through a masterclass, some scepticism may be warranted. Riedel’s class, however, was truly insightful.
Led by Certified Sommelier Dirakerit ‘DK’ Kotchawong, and Riedel Brand Manager Walter Giomi, the masterclass featured four wine varieties and glass models: Riedel’s Veritas Riesling, Veritas Oaked Chardonnay, Veritas Old World Pinot Noir, and Veritas Cabernet/Merlot glasses.
Starting with a 2016 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Churton winery, guests were asked to transfer the wine into all four vessels on the table, give them a swirl, and smell. The bouquet popped with full intensity from the wine in the Riesling glass, but was muted in the other three. When tasted in its proper glassware, the Riesling came alive, bursting with tropical fruit and subtle hints of asparagus. When tasted from the other three glasses, however, the wine lacked the same balance in texture, flavour, and finish.
As guests moved on to a 2016 Kumeu River Chardonnay, a 2015 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon (from Chile’s Maipo Valley), and lastly a 2016 Two Paddock Picnic Pinot Noir, the value of the glassware—especially their distinct shapes—became clearer and clearer.
“It all has to do with the shape of the bowl and how it directs wine onto your tongue,” Giomi explained, noting Riedel’s rigorous testing process, in which a panel of 10 tastes wine after wine in different glasses until they reach a consensus on the perfect glass.
“A light, fruity wine such as a Riesling should land on the tip of the tongue to de-emphasize the acidity while highlighting the fruit,” he cited as an example. A tannic red, on the other hand, shines when the wine lands on the centre of the tongue, harmonizing its fruit, tannins, and acidity.
Wine aficionados will know that champagne should be served in a Joseph Champagne Glass (although it’s often served in a flute), and Pinot in a glass with a large bowl and tapered rim, but never question why. Once you have the hands-on experience, though, you may find a new appreciation for your favourite wines. Not to mention your glassware.
by Craig Sauers
Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar
2F, 999 Gaysorn Village
Open daily: 11am-midnight
Tel: 02 656 1133