WineGuyMike: What’s in a Glass?


Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a stemware demonstration with Maximillian Riedel, the 11th generation family member representing the Riedel Wine Glass Company.

Riedel has been making grape varietal-specific wine glasses for 300 years, and I have been using their stemware for 20 years.

I have studied wine nearly my entire life, but the 90 minutes I spent in the demonstration were by far the most educational and also the most compelling. This demonstration truly stirred my wine soul.

Form versus function is a familiar term, and for the Riedel Company it is a combination of both. When we open a bottle of wine to let it breathe, decant, or aerate the wine, we are introducing oxygen which “opens up” the wine and brings out the aroma and flavor of the wine.

There are between two and three elements of wine that create aroma and flavor.

The first element is the fruit, and the second is the yeast that is used to ferment the wine. Second, fruit and yeast combine during fermentation to produce aroma and flavor or sense of taste.

The third influence upon the wine in your glass may be the oak barrel that the wine was aged in. Some varietals of white wine are fermented and aged in steel; in this case there is no oak influence to the sense of taste or aroma.

Red wine, and some varietals of white wine like Chardonnay, spend more time in oak barrels. Red wines in particular benefit from barrel aging. During fermentation red wines get their color from the skin of the grape. Tannin occurs as a result of grapes and their skins soaking together during the fermentation process.

Barrel aging allows the red wines to develop depth of color and refine or settle tannin, which is the grittiness you experience when drinking a red wine.

From my table to yours,


Curious about more influences on wine aroma and flavor? Read more on WineGuyMike’s blog, or listen to the podcast featuring Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America, and WineGuyMike™.


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