Riedel Questions & Answers
How do you pronounce Riedel?
First thing's first! It's REE-dull (rhymes with needle) not RYE-dell (that's John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's high school in Grease!)
Are Riedel wine glasses worth the money?
Well, of course I'm going to answer "YES" to this question, but let's provide a bit of context. Our glasses range from £11 each (or less if you buy a Value Pack) to £100 each. Whilst a £100 glass cannot change the quality of a cheap, poorly made wine, a terrible glass can reduce the appreciation of a very good bottle of wine.
A wise man once told me that you should spend as much on a wine glass as you would on a bottle of the wine you'd like to drink from it. I think it may have been Mr. Riedel himself, but my poor, age and wine addled brain can't quite remember. So, if we look at it in those terms, then £20 - £30 per glass is not too extravagant, and that covers the vast majority of Riedel glasses. When you consider that you could, realistically, use them (if you're careful) for 10 years, that's less than 6 pence per week, or a penny a day. Damn cheap!
Do Riedel glasses really make a difference?
The size, shape and construction of a wine glass does affect how you perceive the wine, both in its aroma and flavour profile and also mouthfeel. And since all wines are not the same in terms of their attributes, style and flavour profiles, there is no one perfect wine glass which will show off every style of wine equally.
Some wines need a larger bowl to show off their complex aromas, others will fare better in a smaller glass, some benefit from a glass lip that flares out a bit, while others show better with a wine glass lip that curves in a bit.
All Riedel glasses are born out of comparative tasting sessions (rather than on a drawing board), where a panel of judges vote on what shape they consider performs the best. Expert winemakers and sommeliers carefully analyse the experience of drinking wine in different shapes of glasses.
Varietal-specific glasses are designed with three variables: shape, size and rim diameter, all of which affect the bouquet, texture, flavour and finish of the wine. Depending on how close or far your nose is from the wine itself, you will taste the wine differently. Depending on how narrow or wide the rim of the glass is, will affect the aromatics of the wine and then its flavour. For me, the most dramatic evidence of the importance of glass size and shape is drinking a Sauvignon Blanc out of a large "Oaked Chardonnay" glass, you can barely taste it. The same wine out of a much smaller, appropriately shaped bowl comes to life with bright, fresh citrus and green apple flavours.
Are Riedel wine glasses dishwasher safe?
Short answer, YES. All Riedel glassware is dishwasher safe, but it's not recommended for some of the larger, hand-made decanters.
Here are a few pro tips to consider before putting your glasses into the dishwasher:
- Riedel recommends that you use Miele dishwashers. These have been tested in the laboratory and found that Miele dishwashers give Riedel glasses a lifespan of 1500 washing cycles. This translates to a lifespan of over 20 years.
- To avoid any scratches to your Riedel wine glasses, keep the glassware away from heavier objects like knives and pots. Avoiding contact with other glass or metal will keep the glass scratch free. If possible, use a stemware rack to keep them in one place.
- The glassware needs to be properly spaced in the dishwasher so that they cannot shake or clink.
- Low mineral water content should be used to avoid stains.
- White vinegar can be used to remove the stains.
- Use modern dishwasher detergents.
- Use cool wash cycles for all glassware.
Are Riedel wine glasses crystal?
Yes. Crystal is made from sand and water and each glass has microscopic “pitting” in it. This enhances the aroma and flavour of the wine, as when you swirl the wine in the glass, it goes in to those little pits, which helps to bring out the aromas.
Are Riedel wine glasses lead free?
Again, YES. Riedel no longer sells lead crystal glasses. To achieve the same brilliance, clarity and lustre as lead crystal, they use borosilicate. The borosilicate glass is harder than regular glass, so it can be moulded into more complex shapes.
Where are Riedel wine glasses made?
The Riedel factory is in the idyllic Austrian town of Kufstein, about 4km from the border with Germany. The company has invested heavily in its machine production and has two systems of production lines that are capable of making approximately 91,000 pieces per day and 28 million glasses per year. The mesmerising, whizzing, fire-breathing machines that blow 1500-degree non-lead crystal into moulds, mechanically attaches the stems, laser-trims and fire polishes the glasses for a final time before they are inspected for any flaws. Imperfect glasses (approximately 30% on a good day) are destroyed, crushed and re-melted into the crystal mix, a process that helps improve the quality of the crystal itself. Interestingly, if there is not enough recycled crystal content added to the mix each day, additional recycled glass will be added to perfect the recipe.
How do you identify Riedel wine glasses?
All Riedel glasses are etched on the base, the distinctive Riedel signature was used for Riedel glassware made in Bohemia from 1890 to 1925. In 1996, to commemorate Riedel's 240th anniversary, it was reintroduced for all hand-made products.
Machine made products carry the block capital etching.
Are thin wine glasses better?
Whatever the shape and size of good wine glasses, all of them are made thin. There has been much speculation as to why. Some say that it contributes to the look, smell and taste of the wine. When a glass is thin, it allows you to have a clearer view of the colours of the wine so you can admire it more. Physilogically, it is so that there is little between the lips and the wine.
It really is that simple.
Good wine glasses have a “cut” rim, whilst lesser glasses (more robust) have a ‘rolled” edge to the rim and you do notice the difference.
It also has something to do with psychology. The taste, smell and overall impression of a wine is built up in the brain. How we perceive flavour depends on our senses, especially the sight and smell.
Why are red wine glasses bigger than white?
This is because red wines will typically have bolder tasting notes and benefit from being able to “breathe more” than their white counterparts. The larger bowled glasses allow red wine to come into contact with more air, helping them to open up and display more aromas and flavours.
Unlike red wine, white wine doesn’t require as much space to breathe. In fact, to help preserve the aromas, white wine glasses will usually have a more acute bow within the bowl and a smaller opening at the rim of the glass. The exception to this rule is the Oaked Chardonnay glass, which is larger to accommodate the big, bold aromas and flavours.
How do you know if wine glasses are expensive / good quality?
There are a number of things to look for when judging the quality of a wine glass.
The first point to ponder is clarity. Just like when we taste wine, we use our eyes as our first tools to consider the quality of a glass. A wineglass made from crystal will have much greater brilliance and clarity than one made from soda lime glass (the type of glass used for windows and most bottles and jars). Imperfections, like bubbles or a noticeable blue or green tint, are another sign that an cruder raw material has been used.
The second point to consider is weight. Although crystal and crystalline glass is denser than ordinary glass, the added strength means that they can be blown super fine and so crystal glasses can be much thinner and lighter than glass ones. The distribution of weight is also really important: the base should be heavy and wide so that the glass doesn’t tip over easily.However, the weight of the base and the weight of the bowl must be balanced, so that the glass is comfortable to hold and to swirl.
The third key place to look for wine glass quality is the rim. A rolled rim, which is clearly noticeable as it is thicker than the bowl below it, gives a less refined experience than a laser-cut rim.To experience this effect more clearly, exaggerate it by drinking wine out of a thick mug with a rounded lip: the wine will seem thick and clumsy. However, a laser cut rim is more fragile than a rolled one and so the glass needs to be made out of high quality crystal to ensure it doesn’t chip easily.
Another way to detect whether the glass is made of crystal or glass is to tap the widest part of the bowl with your fingernail – it should make a beautiful ringing sound, like a bell.
Why do drinks taste better in a crystal glass?
Crystal is important for wine because it has a rougher texture than regular glass that helps the wine release its aromas. As I wrote earlier, crystal is made from sand and water and each glass has microscopic “pitting” in it.
This enhances the aroma and flavour, as when you swirl the wine in the glass, it goes in to those little pits, which agitates it and helps to bring out the aromas.