Comparing the pleasure wine delivers to that of music works for me because both deliver information to the relevant senses with the ideal end result being pleasurable. Therefore the more information without interference that you can receive the greater the pleasure.
Up until the first America’s Cup challenge I was working clubs and bars using trade standard glassware purchased more for durability and price than form or function, the consumption of wine from them was like listening to 95bFM on a handheld transistor radio turned to full volume while walking around the city.
The small transistor radio is like those pub glasses that are designed to make a 150ml standard serve look like a full glass and no matter how much potential the wine has it is limited by the space it has to stretch and shine. A transistor radio turned onto full volume with no graphic equalization to distinguish between hip hop, rock or disco tunes is going to flatten everything to sound the same, the exact same effect as drinking Sauvignon Blanc (hip hop), Cabernet Sauvignon (rock) and Pinot Gris (disco) from the same pub glass. Having the volume up on full while walking around the city means the DJ’s commentary is distorted and you can annoyingly miss out on hearing the name or title and like wine it’s often the subtle quiet notes that can be the most telling. Imagine how quick you’d throw that transistor.
Working at Euro during the first America’s Cup was a lot of fun and one of the few things I can recall is the impact of the Schott Zweisell wine glasses. They were goldfish bowls of different shapes on a stick capable of holding a complete bottle! Once I settled down I discovered how wine seemed to improve in these larger vessels. The transistor radio had been traded in for a top of the range boom box and I had my FIRST real sound system.
Like my first real entry level sound system it raised my expectations and was fantastic for developing my interest but looking back years later I’m almost embarrassed at having owned it. The same can be said for my perception of the Schott range of glasses that I have hidden at the back of the glassware cupboard. The best at the time of purchase have now been superseded by the Reidel, as the Schott range were all look and not really about the job of getting the bouquet to you (which as pointed out last week, is about 80% what you perceive of a wine's taste or flavour).
Reidel (rhymes with needle) is the family name but it’s Claus and his son George (9th & 10th Generation!) that have really changed the shape and performance of wineglasses since the 50’s by investing in research and development of specific wine glasses for specific wine varietals. Just like buying specific stereo components to complement your house and the style of music you like to listen to you can now, through Glengarry, buy specific Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Champagne and more glasses. Personally I have invested in just four pairs for my home consumption. Two Pinot Noir because that’s what I’m swimming in at the moment, two Chardonnay because if I have to they can hold the Pinot Noir quite well but more importantly Chardonnay/Chablis in these just sing. Two Sauvignon Blanc glasses that are great for Riesling to, and finally two of the big Cabernet Merlot glasses for those big-ass reds on those steak nights. Pinot Gris are going to rule this summer and as a rule of thumb the fruity ones suit the Sav Blanc glass and the drier more mineral suit the Chard glasses.
Basic wine glass technique
1. Fill the glass generally to where it’s the widest diameter to maximise it’s development in the glass, and in these glasses it will be NO higher than the bottom third. Any higher and your just pulling a Hans.
2. Hold the glass by the stem as to avoid heating the wine up with your hand, really important to remember with beers served in pilsner glasses.
3. Swirl the wine in the glass as violently as possible without it escaping (practise before doing this in public) as this will introduce oxygen into the wine and more importantly release molecules and coat the whole inside of the glass. Cover your nose completely by the glass to stop outside odours interfering and inhale deeply taking an olfactory type recording of the wine. The first smell is the deepest and you will be bombarded with information, the following successive smells will decline because that’s the way your nose works unless you take a small break.
4.Best to wash glasses by hand and rinse thoroughly using a clean cotton cloth to buff dry, but for bachelor life this is not cool so put them through the dishwasher on a low cool setting to avoid aggressive detergent build up.
“The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.”
(Robert M.Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate)
I totally agree with Bob and would like to add that it lifts $10 wines to the $20 level and $20 wines to the $50 level, cheap wines will always taste cheap but these glasses are essential for mid and higher quality wines. Speaking of quality wines there’s a good party at Stoneyridge this Saturday October 21st, see you at the bar.
Feel free to send in your booze related queries and I’ll use my trade resources to find answers.
Disclaimer: This is all a load of piss-talk
Hans Hoeflich has been getting paid to drink for years. He's passionate about Italian scooters and is the head barman at Cibo Restaurant
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