As I previewed a while ago, the LearnAboutWine's Riedel class at Loft 218 sounded amazing; as with previous LAW events, I always pick up new and interesting facts about wine and it's always fun to mingle with my oenophiliac table neighbors. And to top it off, Riedel Crystal USA's CEO Maximilian Riedel himself will be guiding us through the different wines and glasses and I get to take home a 4-piece set that retails for around $120. So I ponied up the $59 and attended the session last night.
Just like I expected, it was a delightful, informative event and I came out amazed at all the new things I've learned from Max, who is by the is very charismatic and passionate about his generations-old craft, including:
*first and foremost, the actual pronounciation of Riedel (somewhere between 'riddle' and 'REE-dle' but definitely not the more-commonly-heard 're-DELL')
*the 11 generations of Riedel glassmaking, and their pretty involved process in developing glasses specific to not only grape varietals but also specific regions (in our session alone, we used a Burgundy and a Bordeaux glass, though in a pinch it could double over for Pinot Noir and Cabernet/Merlot, respectively.) Their longstanding expertise in this craft actually led them to be approached to make spirit- specific glasses as well.
*and most importantly, how even minor adjustments in the glass' size, roundness, taper and finish affects the final sensation and perception of the wine - running the gamut from how the wine flows through your tongue's different taste zones to how aromas and alcohol is concentrated and diluted.
To showcase the final point, Mr. Riedel had us taste the same wines in assorted glasses and I was surprised by how dramatically different the wine smells and tastes just by swapping the glass. The one that struck the biggest chord with me was how a wonderfully fragrant Cabernet (and this is for a varietal that's not one of my faves!) in the Bordeaux glass wound up smelling one-dimensional and tasting puckery tannic when drank from the Chardonnay glass.
Asides from proving his point that glass sizes made a difference, Max Riedel also demonstrated two of his elegant but functional decanters (and it's his belief that all wines, including whites and even sparkling, benefit from decantation prior to serving) and then took audience questions in regards to proper usage and maintenance of wine glassware.
And, because this event sold out so fast -- Max is actually doing this class again tomorrow (which is why I'm blogging about it so soon.) Ian from LAW told me there are only a few seats left for tomorrow's class so act quick if interested! (And for those looking to get more than one Vinum set, additional ones will be offered for a special discount at the event.) Alternatively, Georg Riedel (Max's father) will be doing a tasting of his own in the upcoming LA Winefest... price tag is a steeper $150 though (though the set you take home there may be different.)
Of course, either of these classes will likely leave you being a wineglass snob henceforth, you've been warned. Cheers!