Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

Not new, but really worth repeating.

October 01, 2010

Saw a piece this morning on Huffington, about Why the Wine Glass Makes a Difference.  It reminded me that even still, many people don't believe or understand that the glass you use for your wine truly does affect the way the wine tastes.

Now, I used to believe that was a bunch of baloney, used to try to market expensive crystal stemware. I spent my glass budget on Waterford's Lismore pattern.  Then, I was at my first visit to the Mondavi Winery, and guest of Robert Mondavi himself.  After Bob showed me around, he asked if I had taken the Riedel challenge.  I said I had not and didn't really believe it would work.  He called over an aide, and just before he left for back to his office, told the aide "Give him the Riedel challenge".  I was escorted into the "reserve room", and a bottle of Mondavi Stag's Leap District Cab opened. First it was poured into a typical heavy plain glass, the kind found in any tasting room or mid tier restaurant in the country.  You know the one. Short, shallow bowl, holds maybe 8 oz total. Ok, the wine was fine in it.  THEN it was presented in a Riedel Cab stem.  The nose was hugely bright and alive, the wine far more complex and vibrant, I couldn't believe they were the same wine from the same bottle.  I was free to go back and forth.  That was some 12 years ago and the Waterford wine stems have been unused ever since. Pretty, but useless for wine.

There are several factors at play here, if you aren't convinced or familiar.  First, the size and shape of the glass.  Larger surface area for the wine means more aroma molecules can evaporate out.  The more aroma molecules, the more intense the nose. Simple. That is why the "custom" stemware looks so much larger, it isn't because we drink more.  Also the glass itself.    Plain glass, like the cheap stuff in the grocery store or "Simply Beyond Bath and More" stores usually mass produced by Libby is literally slick smooth. Under magnification it looks like a sheet of, well, glass.  Good crystal, such as Riedel or Schott-Zweisel, actually has a rough surface to it on the microscopic level. Swirl wine in a plain glass and notice is runs right back down the sides. Swirl in a good crystal stem and you can see the "legs" of the wine cling to the sides.  More aroma molecules! More is better...especially when it comes to wine flavor.

Not all wines need the same size or shape as well. White wines have fewer aroma molecules so they need smaller openings to concentrate them, reds have far more so they need a wider opening.  These companies all produce shapes designed to complement the characteristics of different varietals.

Take the challenge for yourself sometime.  Riedel makes good stems, I prefer the Schott-Sweisel Triton because they aren't as fragile as the Reidel.  I often joked that I could break a Riedel glass just by looking at it! Whatever you choose, you will find a world of difference over the ordinary stuff you've probably been using.



Rob Moshein

Austin Wine Guy

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Raves, rants, musings, ponderings and wine whines... trends, tasting notes, the Austin Wine Guy Rob Moshein shares his world of wine and thoughts about it with you.

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