It’s hard to imagine that anything could enhance one’s experience of the finest French vintages better than the spectacular views from the top of the Silo Hotel tower overlooking Cape Town harbour. That’s probably why Reciprocal chose this venue for the Riedel Glassware Masterclass™ on 30 November. Their secret weapon: Riedel’s varietal-specific stemware (i.e. bowl, stem and base).
The tasting begins rather unceremoniously with a chilled glass of water. But this only sets the stage. The cold water allows a taster to feel exactly how and where the fluid is delivered into the mouth from each of the glasses. This shows which parts of the mouth and tongue are engaged. This exercise makes the point that not every glass delivers its message the same way.
Vice president of sales and marketing for Riedel in Africa, Pieter Terblanche, explains their metaphor of the wine glass as messenger describes perfectly the function of the glass as a means of delivery. Riedel was founded on the Bauhaus philosophy “form follows function”, which explains the long list of glass shapes available – each meticulously designed to bring the best qualities of the varietal to the front.
The tasting proceeds along five varietal-specific glasses: Sauvignon Blanc, oaked Chardonnay, Burgundy red, Cabernet/Bordeaux and Syrah. A wine is poured and tasted first in its proper glass, then in a glass considered less suited. In most cases, the difference is remarkable. Experiencing a wine change its character from one glass to the next can be quite disconcerting.
This was no B-team, either. Reciprocal presented excellent specimens to showcase each varietal’s most distinctive features:
- Sauvignon Blanc: De Ladoucette Sancerre Comte Lafond 2015
- Chardonnay: Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay 2014
- Pinot Noir: Louis Jadot Monthelie “Les Champs Fulliot” 1er Cru 2008
- Bordeaux blend: S & S Pauillac Private Reserve 2010
- Shiraz: M & S Ogier Syrah “La Rosine” 2013.
The final coup de grâce: a can of Coke, one polystyrene cup, a specialised Riedel glass, and a block of citrus Lindt chocolate to prime the palate for notes of orange. While orange flavours are clearly present in the Coke from the Riedel glass, it remains undetectable in the polystyrene cup. Believe it or not, the Coke tastes more rounded and less sweet in the special glass. It’s not the height, so it must be Riedel magic!