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Posted by on Dec 23, 2013

Pimpin’ for Riedel


I just read a book where the author discussed life-changing experiences and how we typically don’t know at the moment that we’re having one. I had one a few years back at (surprise!) a wine tasting, and things have never been the same since then.

This one happened a few years ago when Jill and I were still dating. She had flown out to California from Chicago and I had planned a fantastic weekend. First, a wine tasting at the beautiful Presidio in San Francisco, followed by a day and night in Napa Valley. Unfortunately, my plans went astray at the wine tasting. Toward the end of the evening all of the wineries were ushered in to one of the rooms for some kind of awards presentation, leaving Jill and I alone in another room to sample wines unencumbered. We may have over-indulged right then, and may have gone back to the East Bay and stopped at a bar for a pint before heading home.

Our first wine tasting!!!

Our first wine tasting!!! Nice glasses!

The upshot was we were both terribly hung over the next morning and for some reason I had made an early appointment to taste at Paraduxx winery, one of the labels of the well-known Duckhorn family of wines. Though the last thing we wanted to do at that moment was taste wine, we bellied up to the tasting table and prayed that hair of the dog really works.

That day, Paraduxx was doing a special Riedel glass tasting. The concept was simple. There were four different Riedel glasses each made exclusively for a specific varietal, along with a “Joker glass” or the kind of cheap wine glass most people have in their homes. The process was rather simple, the wine was poured into one of the Riedel glasses and the Joker glass after which you would smell the wine and taste. What was most amazing was that you could not tell what the wine smelled like from the Joker glass, while you were able to get a good whiff from the Riedel glasses. Since smell is such an integral part of the tasting process it made all the difference in the world, even for two hungover people who wanted nothing to do with wine that day. Riedel glasses also are shaped so that the wine is directed toward the taste buds most sensitive to that particular wine.The lip of the glass is also what separates the best from the rest. Riedel’s glasses are laser cut and quite thin on top while a Joker glass has a thick lip that acts as a speed bump before delivering wine to some random place in your mouth. All of this doesn’t make much sense until you actually do a tasting like this yourself.

From bottom left around to bottom right -- Joker glass, Chardonnay glass, Sauvignon Blanc glass, Pinot Noir glass, Cabernet Sauvignon glass.

From bottom left around to bottom right — Joker glass, Chardonnay glass, Sauvignon Blanc glass, Pinot Noir glass, Cabernet Sauvignon glass.

We left the tasting blown away (or at least I was) and Riedel wine glasses have been a part of our lives ever since. Jill’s mother has graciously filled our cupboards with Riedel products and we even used some fancy Riedel sparkling wine glasses on our wedding day.

Flash forward to our trip around the world. My one regret, that I’ve detailed in many a blog post, was not bringing our Riedel O to GO stemless glasses on our trip. We were stuck drinking from Joker glasses, coffee cups, plastic cups and virtually anything but a proper glass throughout our tour. Virtually every winery in New Zealand and Australia poured into small wine glasses with wide lips. I couldn’t understand how wineries didn’t want to showcase their wines in the best possible manner. Buying Riedel in these countries was not in our budget either as they were selling for around $30 a glass or more.

I wisely brought my O to GO glasses on a prior trip to Greece.

I wisely brought my O to GO glasses on a prior trip to Greece.

My saving grace came when we met my parents in England. Jill’s mom had given the O to GO glasses we had brought cross-country with us last year to my mother and we were reunited for our cruise through Norway. A month later in Belgium both glasses were history following a horrific accident involving beer, a shaky side table and my elbow. Much like the glasses themselves, I was crushed beyond repair.

Flash forward again to the end of our trip and our Transatlantic cruise home. Celebrity Cruises does the exact same tasting on its boats and I decided to take the plunge again. The cost was somewhat steep at $87, but we were lucky to have shipboard credit to cover the cost and you get to keep the four glasses (1 each of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon) after the tasting. At more than $20 apiece for each glass retail it’s actually a fair price.

I’m happy to report that my second Riedel tasting was just as good as the first — maybe even better since I wasn’t hungover. Even with the sub-par wine that was poured, the glasses sparkled. The other 10 people at the event were blown away like my first time. One woman said she’d never enjoyed Pinot Noir until tasting one from a proper glass. I left with a smile on my face and four new Riedel glasses!!! Thanks Riedel for helping me appreciate one of life’s great pleasures and the life-changing experience. And thanks Babs for even more Riedel glasses over the holidays.

Riedel has been there from the start!


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for explaining why the Big Guy and I have also become “wine glass snobs”. Of course we have not gone far enough to bring our glasses to a restuarant like someone I know.

    Cheers to good wine and good glasses!