Riedel and Wine Events Scotland team up to show how glass shape affects taste

Ever wondered why different wines are served in specific glasses?

Published 21st Dec 2020
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The Edinburgh based company has teamed up with world renowned glass maker Riedel to showcase how and why glass shape affects the taste and smell of wine.

What wine glasses work best for flavour has not been something that I thought much about in my early drinking years, but it is now a topic that holds much interest.

As I have started to enjoy a winder range of drinks, and whisky in particular, my curiosity into how and why certain spirits and drinks are served in a particular glass or glasses has grown.

As with most people, my only real experience of 'proper' glassware is in restaurants and, having been to a unfortunate lack of these this year, getting the chance to join in two Zoom sessions with Diana from Wine Events Scotland and John Hinckley, the UK business manager for Riedel was a real treat.

These initial two tastings - Diana is hosting more in 2021 - were the first of their kind in the UK for Riedel, and took the place of what was meant to be an in-person event in Edinburgh, which Diana told us about on our Scran podcast back in early March.

The two tastings were to showcase the Performance range, a set of four glasses which were delivered alongside four wines - two white and two red.

Session one was the white wines glasses, and featured a 2019 Esk Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a 2019 Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay.

Firstly, John talked the participants through the two white wine glasses from the range, and explained the presence of the 14 panels that make up the bowl of the wine glass, which increase the surface area.

John then went on to describe the reasons for the glass shapes and that the height and smaller mouth of the sauvignon blanc glass would make the you tilt your head back more when drinking - therefore keeping the acid receptors on the tongue away from the wine, which in turn enhances the tropical fruit flavours of this wine.

This is not something I had realised before and, on tasting the wine in this glass then its 'wrong' chardonnay glass, it was like experiencing a different wine as both the smell and taste were very obviously affected.

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Next up was the wider brimmed chardonnay glass allowed the soft fruit and buttery flavours wine, while ensuring that there was less tilt in the head when drinking.

When poured into the sauvignon blanc glass, the chardonnay was nowhere near as fruity or appealing.

Session two, the red wine and glasses, took place a week later and started with a very distinctive looking pinot noir glass, which has an 'acidity bumper' rim.

This, a bit like the sauvignon blanc glass, directs acidity away from the wine and this enhances the dark fruity notes in the 2019 Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir.

The chardonnay glass was back, to show how the pinot noir loses its rich flavour and smell when tasted through a wider rimmed glass.

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Next up a claret glass was used to try a 2018 Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon.  This more traditional looking red wine glass emphasised the dark fruity and complex notes in the wine, which were lost in the thinner glasses.

As well as tasting a range of lovely, affordable wines, these sessions offer a chance to really experience why different glass shapes and used and why - and you don't need to be a wine expert to join in.

Speaking about Riedel tastings, Diana Thompson of Wine Events Scotland said: "This was an enlightening tasting experience as it was a unique chance to discover why these different glasses, designed for different styles of wines, have become so popular.

"Using Riedel’s elegant Performance range, with guidance from John, we had the opportunity to experience this for ourselves, tasting wines ideal for each of the four classic glass styles and discover how they compare when served in the “wrong” glass.

"It’s quite an eye opener which has continued to surprise many for many years, whether you’re enjoying the very simplest of wines or one for a special occasion."

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Wine Events Scotland will be hosting further Riedel tasting in 2021, for more information please click here.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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