Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Comparative Riedel glass tasting conducted by Mr Georg J. Riedel in Singapore

The questions from a wine glassmaker to his guests: “What’s the point of buying a good wine only to drink it in a manner where it can’t show itself properly? Ain’t you wasting the wine and missing a good emotional moment?” Valid questions I must admit.

the Miele gallery

.. ladies from the Miele team

Wednesday morning I swung by Miele’s gallery (at Winsland House 2) to attend a Comparative Riedel glass tasting conducted by Mr Georg J. Riedel.

.. reps from Appetite magazine and Cellarmaster Wines

This invitation by Cellarmaster Wines gave me the opportunity to ascertain for myself 2 things:

a. how the shape of a wine glass affects the aroma, flavor , texture and finish of a wine in a glass, and

b. since different grape varietals offer different character profiles, to see if it is logical (and may be sensible) to drink a particular wine in a glass designed to show best what the wine has to offer.

.. Mr Georg J. Riedel with the Eve decanter

Mr Georg suggests that “wine in a wrong type of glass does not allow you to maximize the joy a wine can give”. We need to instead go beyond the common practice of using an ‘all purpose red wine glass’ for all our red wines or ‘one white wine glass’ for all our whites.

Since this blog is primarily for new wine enthusiasts (and some of you may out have had the opportunity yet to taste wines using the Sommelier range of Riedel glasses), I’ll briefly highlight a few of the exercises we did during this workshop and mention the ‘findings’. It may be useful to those considering the purchase of wine glasses for personal use in the near future.

.. the Sommeliers #4400series Riedel glasses

For this workshop, we were introduced to 3 Riedel wine glasses; Sommeliers Hermitage 4400/30, Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru 4400/16 and Sommelier Bordeaux Grand Cru 4400/00. We also were given 3 wines; a pinot noir, a shiraz and a cabernet sauvignon, each in a plastic cup to be used during the tasting.

Exercise 1: Tasting water (… yes, not wine yet but water) to see how each of these glasses deliver the water to the tongue and to identify the particular glass favoured by participants to consume water.

Findings on delivery: Each of these glasses does in fact deliver water to different parts of one’s tongue. The Hermitage glass delivered water to the back of one’s tongue, the Burgundy glass to the front of the tongue and the Bordeaux glass seem to allow the water to fall almost ‘everywhere’ over the tongue. The minerals and salts found within the water showed itself slightly differently when using each of these 3 glasses. Most participants favoured using the Bordeaux glass as it showed the water with a softer body and a smoother feel.

Exercise 2: Tasting pinor noir in all 3 glasses.

.. checking how a wine shows in different glasses

Findings on Aromas: We tried the Burgundy glass first and I must say it is wide enough to almost cover one’s face :p When with the nose (and for some their face) ‘in the glass’ as the speaker suggested, you get aromas of red fruits, spice and minerals coming forth in layers. In the Bordeaux glass, the spice note gets prominent in the nose but the red fruit aromas tend to be much subdued. It’s as if you almost lost the primary red fruit notes. The Hermitage glass skipped the red fruits and spice elements and instead revealed yeast and wet feet aromas; not exactly an ideal glass to nose this pinot.

Findings on Palate: The Burgundy glass reveals a wine with a lively body, red fruits and spice flavours, and a good balance between the wine's components in one's palate. The Bordeaux glass shows the wine differently. The pinot takes on a linear flavor profile with bitter notes and high acidity which stifles the fruit flavours. The Hermitage glass reveals a concentrated, intense wine without doing much justice to the flavours. The Hermitage glass fared slightly better than the Bordeaux glass, but not as good as the Burgundy glass for the pinot.

Exercise 3: Tasting shiraz in a plastic cup, the Bordeaux and Hermitage glasses.

Findings: For me this was the most interesting exercise of the morning. Sipping shiraz from a plastic cup revealed lovely yielding fruit flavours with ‘sweet-fruit' notes, good acidity and a pleasant finish. The shiraz tasted enjoyable when tasted from a plastic cup! Surprisingly the same shiraz in a Bordeaux glass became overly thick and concentrated on the palate revealing black cherries and a short finish. One loses the yielding flavours which was witnessed in the plastic cup. However in a Hermitage glass the shiraz showed a supple, rounded body with flavours of black berries and spice; and a lingering finish. The advice of the speaker: “ Don’t use a Bordeaux glass for your shiraz, though one may think that is the next best option for a glass as both wines somewhat have similar body strengths and structures).

Exercise 4: Tasting cabernet sauvignon in the Bordeaux and Burgundy glasses 

Findings: In the Bordeaux glass one gets aromas of black currants, cassis, cedar and chocolate. Palate shows a rounded, supple body with good depth and balance. In the Burgundy glass much of the aroma is lost, and the palate reveals sour and green notes rather than the fruits. Tannins are slightly abrasive and the body shows a linear profile.

.. participants mingling at session's end
The shapes of a wine glass does seem to affect the aroma and flavor profiles a wine can reveal to a drinker. In the right glass one gets a better mouthfeel, layers of flavour, a good balance and finish from a wine. 

Georg J. Riedel looks upon glasses as “tools for noses and palates” and attending this workshop makes one appreciate the need for the 'right type of tool' to get the most out of a particular wine.

... morgun pathi

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