Recently having tried Riedel for the first time with friends, I was fortunate enough to sign up in time for the sold-out Riedel Tasting Seminar at Taste WA today. And again, I was not disappointed.
For a reasonable price of $45, the tasting included sampling a Washington Pinot Noir, a Syrah and a Cabernet Sauvignon in their respective Riedel Vinum XL glasses (and switching between varietal specific glasses for comparison). And the best part? The pairings with chocolate? Almost. It was taking the 3 piece set of glasses home to experiment further (included in the price).
As illustrated in the photo, we sat down to find our accurately chilled wines distributed, Lindt chocolates placed, and our fresh glasses waiting for us to begin pouring, swirling, sipping and enjoying. The tasting began with Talking Rain bottled water. Yes, water. And indeed, water bottled at the source (for natural mineral content) tasted distinctly altered between the 3 varietal specific glasses. This removed all worry for the novice in me that my palate was not going to be able to taste enough characteristic difference between the wines.
However, even for the less experienced wine taster, the characteristics of each of the wines varied from glass to glass, from chocolate pairing to chocolate pairing. Suddenly, words such as oak, spice, jam, acidity, tannin became familiar and made sense instead of just jargon in a textbook I'd once read. Typically, earthy and fruit specific would be about as much as I could pick up. Maybe it wasn't my inadequacies the other times. Perhaps it was improper glassware (and/or temperature).
Comparing the taste of each wine in their specifically designated glasses versus the other varietals' glasses was enlightening. It is incredible the changes observed in the same wine with three different shaped and sized glasses. Balance and true flavor became easily apparent in the varietal specific glass while either acidity, mineral or tannin would overpower in the improper glass. Interestingly, the Cab turned out to taste the best to me overall- and I've never considered myself a Cab person per se.
If you visit Riedel's website you'll see there are several lines of glassware in various price ranges so you need not break the bank in order to taste wine at it's best. And if you click on the photo below, you'll be taken to a not-so-advertised chance to experience this yet!