Riedel’s stemless “O” glass

This, my first glassware tasting, was the stand out event for me over Christmas. It even helped to shape my Christmas present list! As if in the presence of Derren Brown or David Blaine, Georg Riedel’s presentation of Riedel’s stemless “O” glass (or perhaps more aptly “Oh! Glass”) fell into the category of “a happening” which crashed jaws to the floor and launched eyebrows into the stratosphere.

I have experienced the benefits of larger glasses for red wine and smaller, narrower shapes for white wines, especially aromatic varieties. However, I freely admit that, until the “O” tasting, I had always been sceptical of the benefits of more specialised glassware.

Not convinced. Okay, I’ll share some first hand experience of tasting Knappstein’s Lenswood Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills 2000 from Riedel’s “O” Pinot Noir glass, “O” Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc glass and “O” Chardonnay glass. Natch, this Burgundian variety showed superbly in its Pinot Noir glass: black and red cherry aromas with earthy notes and a touch of leather, followed by spicy, rich black cherry and plum fruit of sensual vinosity. Overall, it gave a great impression of balance, in terms of fruit, tannin and acidity – a harmonious wine indeed.

Much more compressed in the more narrowly shaped Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc glass, the wine’s character was transformed into a severe rather than sensual expression of the Burgundian one. As for the Chardonnay glass which, to the casual observer, bore greater resemblance to the Pinot glass, you might have thought things would improve. To the contrary as Riedel put it, the Chardonnay glass is “the enemy of red wine”. Accentuating Pinot Noir’s acidity it imparted a distinct and unpleasant tartness to the wine.

If I’ve got your attention and only one eyebrow is cocked, may I refer you to the Riedel website which talks you through the science and psychology of glassware: flow initiation, gustatory and olfactory receptors and the like. You’ll also find an extensive list of stockists on this very informative site.


Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
January 2005

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