Riedel Me This

"So you're telling me the shape, size and rim diameter of a glass can affect the way the liquid inside tastes and smells...I'm not sure I believe it," said a man sitting in front of me during a spirit tasting seminar last week at the Riedel showroom in New York City.

"Yes!" Maximilian Riedel excitedly proclaimed in his Austrian accent, "Shall we get started?"

Maximilian (11th Generation glassmaker) gave an overview of the tasting mats in front of us, while pointing out the order we will taste each spirit.

He explained his tag line: See, Smell then Taste, which was what he wanted us to do each time we picked up a new glass. First you are to look at the color of the beverage in the glass, swirl it around and look and the viscosity, pay attention to the color range from tilting the glass on it's side. Next swirl the beverage and put your nose inside the glass to smell the aromas, feel the strength of the alcohol on your nose and eyes, note the aromatic components (i.e. vanilla, oak, caramel). Last take a small sip of the beverage letting it cover the mouth in order to reach all taste receptors of the tongue, then either sip or swallow the liquid.

And so we began...Maximilian instructed us to pick up the first spirit located in the plastic cup on the far left corner, a Reposado Tequila. We first looked at it, then smelled it and then finally tried it. It tasted like a regular 'ol tequila shot to me...smelling of heavy alcohol and had a burning sensation as it went down my throat, leaving me with a slight pucker and shiver. Next he had us pour the remaining liquid from the plastic cup into the Riedel Tequila Glass (which resembled a Champagne Flute).

We then went through the motions again: Sight, this time the color of the Reposado really came through showcasing a beautiful light amber hue sparkling in the light; and the legs of the tequila slowly trickled down the sides of the glass like a graceful swan dive.

Smell: to my surprise, the glass really did change the dynamic of the beverage. I wasn't getting the over-powering alcohol burn on my eyes and nose, it was much more refined. I also started to smell the richness of the tequila, it was a bit smokey, and had hints of salt water and vanilla.

Taste: the tequila went down smoothly without a bite and followed through with the vanilla and smokey aromatics.

Wow, I thought...this is cool! I was now a believer in beverage appropriate glassware. We went on to try a Cognac and Single Malt in the same fashion (from plastic cup to the signature designed Riedel glass) and low and behold, the differences in color, aroma and tastes were more elegant and balanced in the glassware.

Maximilan explained that in the Riedel Bar collection, each glass is finely tuned to increase the enjoyment of neat spirits by showing the unique character of the beverage; highlighting the fruitiness and de-emphasizing the evidence of alcohol on the nose and palate.

As he wrapped up the tasting he gave us all a little gift: a set of Riedel Single Malt Glasses! Awesome....this gives me an excuse to start updating my barware collection, as I am quickly learning "general" glassware (i.e. snifters, rocks, highball) is becoming a thing of the past now that there are spirit specific glassware on the market.

This was truly an educational and useful seminar, and I'm excited to utilize my new knowledge next time I'm out at a bar or restaurant!

For more information on Riedel Glasses, visit: http://www.riedel.com/

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