Is A Man Is Only Good As His Glass? Or, Time To Dispel Myths: Size Matters

– originally posted at The Digital Tavern on April 10, 2003 –

I became a believer several years ago. That is that the type of stemware makes a dramatic difference in the taste of good wine. I used to laugh at those folks who would drag a bag of their favorite Riedel glasses into a fine dining restaurant. But since meeting Georg Riedel many years ago at a “glass tasting” in Northern California, I became a believer. My Riedel stemware collection includes Bordeaux, Chardonnay, Syrah, Port, Champagne and Burgundy. These are from his Vinum line. These glasses have stems so delicate that when washing them I've had them break in my hands. You've got to be real careful to say the least. But for the most part, the Bordeaux glass is a perfect all around stem.

Not only do I have these Vinum glasses, I also have both a Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy stem from Riedel's impressive (but expensive) Sommelier hand blown crystal line. If you just sneeze in the direction of these big sommelier glasses they'll likely break. to look at this glass you'd swear it could hold a whole bottle of wine. Of course, this is not the point. in fact most of the time I barely pour 2-3 ounces in any of these glasses. It's all about the shape that enhances the wine's aromatics and how it falls on your tongue and coats your mouth as you taste.

You think I'm crazy? Try a Riedel glass. Then try one of those cheesy wine glasses you typically are served in a restaurant. They either look like fish bowls that do no good to leverage the beautiful aromas of a wine, or they have beaded edges and extra thick glass you'd think you were putting a large thermometer in your mouth — not a fine glass of wine. There are knock-offs too. Is A Man Is Only Good As His Glass? Or, Time To Dispel Myths: Size Matters

Spiegelau has done a good job at pirating Riedel's design. So close, yet so different. In taste tastes, I still prefer the Riedel but at $10 versus almost $20 — Spiegelau is a good value.

Still thinking' I'm nuts, right? Try it.

— click image to view larger photo —

Well, if you think I'm nuts wait till you get a load of this. I got an email from a fellow wine lover and friend on the east coast. He send me pictures of his latest “toy”. A new and very rare hand made special edition Riedel glass that is ungodly expensive and equally as huge. The glass dwarfs the Sommelier glass which is nearly 11 inches and holds 30 oz of wine. it makes the “generic” Riedel Vinum which is almost 9 inches tall and holds 21 ounces of wine (these are the Bordeaux shape).

As my friend Brian commented, “Pete looks like the incredible shrinking man.” in these photos. And look a the three glasses lined up on the table? The photo can't do it justice. When you think about it that's a 750ml standard bottle of wine. No you've got some scale to consider.

Does size matter? I'd like to see this glass — but behind glass. I'd hate to be the one to sneeze or simply fumble after just one glass too many only to find the floor carpeted with hand blown pieces of Riedel Crystal.

ps- the bottle of wine that Pete might be tasting here could be the 1994 Gallo Sonoma Frei Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. You're thinking Gallo, yeah right. Right? Truly, this is one of the most phenomenal Cabs made in Sonoma and on release about 6 years ago this wine retailed for $14. I've put this wine in a brown bag and had even the most sophisticated palates stumped. Many thinking French. Others suggesting some of California's top producers — from Napa.