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News

Proper stemware – science, preference or pretence?



Is the type of glass in which you serve your wine only a matter of preference or perhaps pretence? Will your favourite red wine not taste just as good from a plain old tumbler as when sipped from fancy crystal stemware? It might indicate a certain level of sophistication and style, but does a glass specifically designed for a certain variety, really make the wine taste better?!

According to leading glass house, Riedel, it does! Although it sounds a bit obvious that someone selling glasses will say that, research supports the claim.

The same wine displays different characteristics when served in different glasses. While studies employ some of the most renowned wine palates to taste the wine from different stemware, it is a test one can easily do at home. Taste the same wine from different glasses and voila! research done.

There are more to it of course. Although wine making techniques influences the style of wine, it is the inherent qualities of the grape variety – its tannin, sweetness, acidity, flavours – that should determine the wine-making methods, oak maturation, etc. The influence of stemware adds another dimension to the wine experience as the choice of wine glass can further enhance a wine’s cultivar-specific characteristics. Therefore Riedel has designed variety-specific glasses as, according to them, they were able to “…create shapes in which the wine, vinified from specific grape varieties, seemed to improve. We started to recognize the complex role that size and shape play in conveying the message of a fine wine.”

The recently released Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Pinot Noir is still quite young with distinct berry aromas, but already one can pick-up on the earthiness often associated with this variety. We thought it might be a good idea to use the ideal glass as suggested by Riedel to ensure the optimum experience from this wine. For the 2014 Culinaria Pinot Noir, we have therefore selected the Riedel Vinum Extreme Pinot Noir glass and the winemaking team was delighted with how the shape of the glass accentuates the earthy nuances of the wine without compromising the freshness of red berry flavours.

To have a variety-specific glass is not practical for most of us – except if you only ever drink one variety! But as the glass can play such an important role in the taste of your wine, do try to keep in mind a few basic stemware tips and choose a colourless crystal glass with a stem, a very thin lip and a bit of a tulip shape. That is a good beginning, but if you are a wine enthusiast, do try to get a glass specifically crafted for your favourite variety!

Research on wine glasses:

Research shows that the design of the glass should be such that its dimensions are in perfect harmony. And this is not just the latest fad! Glass architecture is nothing new. In the 1920’s already, three Viennese architects took the lead in this field with the Riedel designs re-establishing the concept.

The specific shape of the glass has to do the following:

  1. Deliver the quality and intensity of the wine’s aroma.
  2. Highlight the texture or mouth-feel.
  3. Create a balanced interaction between fruit, minerality, acidity and the bitter components of the wine.
  4. Offer a pleasant and lingering aftertaste.

Research shows that the design of the glass should be such that its dimensions are in perfect harmony. And this is not just the latest fad! Glass architecture is nothing new. In the 1920’s already, three Viennese architects took the lead in this field with the Riedel designs re-establishing the concept.

The specific shape of the glass has to do the following:

  1. Deliver the quality and intensity of the wine’s aroma.
  2. Highlight the texture or mouth-feel.
  3. Create a balanced interaction between fruit, minerality, acidity and the bitter components of the wine.
  4. Offer a pleasant and lingering aftertaste.

Read more:

The science behind wine glass shapes

The importance of the wine glass

Wine snobs are right – glass shape does affect flavour

Fundamentals of wine glassware

 

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