I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the Riedel evening, hosted by legendary wine house Vinopolis in foodie heaven, Borough Market. On the surface it was a wine evening, but what would be the angle of the glasses – after all the wine tastings this DC chalets has heard of, it was more about the tasting technique than anything.
After an initial gathering to admire the intricate decanters and glassware we were invited into the main hall, and on each placemat were four very different shaped glasses, and three plastic beakers of red wine. Staff rushed around dispensing chilled bottles of water, something that was shortly to be an important detail. The charismatic and somewhat eccentric Georg Riedel took to the stage and requested we not touch the red wine yet, because we had some fun to have first.
After a chat about the senses, how and why we taste, and the importance of the sinus to taste itself (why food tastes bland when you have a blocked nose or cold) we poured a little of the chilled water into the three long stemmed glasses. To our amusement we were assured that it would create a different taste in each one. Sceptically we tried the first and were asked to discern where on the tongue felt coldest. The coolness was mostly at the front, low and closed through the cheeks. Hmm. The second created a cool spot at the back of the tongue – apparently the narrow glass rim funnels the liquid straight to the back, the angle means you tilt your head back. Ok, interesting. The final glass made the tongue cold from front to back, giving full palate coverage.
We were sitting up a little straighter now, this was very curious. He went on to explain the importance of where the wine was hitting – and therefore which elements, the tannin or the sharpness for example – were accented.
Smiling as he already knew this argument was won, but keen to create a show, we were invited to try the first wine from each glass. Sure enough it tasted vastly different in each one. This was almost unbelievable. In all my wine drinking years I had never considered that the glass I was drinking from could have such a profound effect on flavour.
It was the same for each wine, in the prescribed glass it tasted amazing compared to the others. This is one of those things where you’re going to just take my word for it.
So if you have a gift to buy for a wine fan who loves a particular type, one of the Riedel variety-specific glassware sets might just change their life for the better – when they’re drinking wine, that is.