Thursday, March 12, 2009

Special Drinkventure #110: Riedel Winetasting with LearnAboutWine

Riedel Vinum Set Glasses
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.
Wine Observing
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.
Bags and Boxes
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.


Aaron said...

Wow, what a deal if you get that glass set to take home. Surprised the CEO actually came out to do the class. It shows a lot when the CEO actually knows that much about his product

gourmetpigs said...

Ooh yeah for real, just for the 4-set alone it's worth paying the $59 (that's cheap!) not to mention the wine you get to drink and the knowledge you gain :P

Too bad I can't make it :<
So HC: are you going to start buying expensivo wine glasses now ?

mattatouille said...

cool event. wish you mentioned which wines you drank! :) Riedel is good stuff, but it's dang expensive.

H. C. said...

@Aaron, indeed, I can definitely see Max's passion and commitment when he was talking about the wines and glasses.

@Burumun, ha I just might - though most likely I'd opt for the more break-resistant types, given my butterfingers.

@Matt, the wines themselves weren't particularly special -- it was more a "glass tasting" than anything else, as Max had us transfer the same wines into different glasses to show how the shape and taper brings out or mutes the various qualities of wine.

Kat said...

Sounds like an awesome event! ^_^ Definitely opened my eyes more to wines since I am such a nube lol I would've went for the glasses to burumun! ^_-


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