Monday, November 12, 2012



Riedel: A family owned company for eleven generations


 The tasting

                                                                    Joel Simon of Riedel

Is it unusual to bring your own (wine) glass (BYOG) on an airplane? How about to a restaurant? Not so says Joel Simon, of Riedel. In fact many a restaurant sommelier has been converted to Riedel stemware after a taste test with Simon. During a Riedel tasting at Willow Park Wines and Spirits, a standard wine glass and a plastic cup acted as the ‘joker’ cups, contrasting the difference in taste with Riedel stemware, while Willow Park's Senior Product Consultant Michael Biggatini relayed three fabulous wines to fill each of the wine glasses.

1. Riedel Sommeliers Montrachet/ Chardonnay glass: “The amplifier” with Mer Soleil Chardonnay

According to Simon, this glass allows the DNA of the wine to shine through. The concave shape makes the smell permeate. The diameter of the glass is in balance with the structure of the wine, while the rim alleviates any distortion of flavour on the plate.

The wine: Michael Biggatini notes that the grapes bloom in February, while harvesting takes place in November, and the wine is aged in French barriques. This chardonnay is mellowed with secondary malolactic fermentation which brings out the creamy, popcorn smell. “I think this is one of my new favourite Chardonnay’s.”

Taste in the ‘joker’ plastic cup: Bitterness, high acidity and sharp green apple overwhelms.

2. Riedel Sommeliers Burgundy grand cru/ pinot noir: “the fishbowl”with Bouchaine Pinot Noir 2005

Simon notes that this glass evokes form and function, and as pinot noir is the most food friendly wine, showcases the ‘epiphany’ of wine.

The wine: Biggatini notes that the high acid, low fruit content in the wine combined with the earthiness works well with food, and act as a flavour enhancer. “You get wild berries on the nose”. This Bouchaine 2005 pinot noir was discovered at the Napa Valley charity auction that Biggatini attended.

Taste in the ‘joker’ standard wine glass: brings out caramel tones, and minerality, with a lack of fruit.

3. Riedel Sommeliers Bordeau Grand Cru/ Cabernet/ Merlot: “The flexible glass”with
Brunello di Montalcino

Simon notes, that as the second glass produced in the collection, this glass has a little ‘give’, which makes it durable.

Tine wine: A “super Tuscan” blend of merlot, petit verdaux and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Taste in the ‘joker’ wine glass: Tannic, ‘green’ taste.

*Insider anecdote: Simon suggests drinking Rose Champagne from this glass, especially those made from 100% pinot noir. When visiting a Champagne house, rather than sipping from the requisite elongated tulip champagne glass, Joel suggested to the winemaker this Riedel Burgundy glass. To the winemakers dismay, he had never tasted such prominent notes and profiles. Needless to say, caseloads of Riedel glasses were ordered.

How to care for your pricey stems: Simon suggests holding the glass like a baby’s head with no tension on the stem, and rinse with warm water. “ I like to wash the glasses before the kids get up with some soft music in the background.”

Wine temperature: Simon suggests that temperature is an integral part of the wine drinking process. Wine, according to Simon should be chilled to 13-15 degrees C. “Drinking wine too warm, or at room temperature makes it like a wilted flower”.

Simon brought out “Eve”, a snakelike decanter ($590 retail). suggesting that younger wines "definitely need opening up by decanting.” This is a showstopping decanter that does the job with elegance.

Can you suggest an ‘all purpose’ glass? The Riedel Riesling glass. A wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon will not really shine, but it won’t offend the wine.

But what to do if attending a party with plastic cups? Opt for a glass of water. As Simon chimes, “don’t cut corners, you will miss the intricacies of the wine.”

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