Friday, November 19, 2010

Riedel takes on the BC Wine Appreciation Society

Okay, hands up all you Riedel fans. No, I mean way, way up. That’s better. Now I’m betting every one of you is going to understand right away when I say that Frank and I have a serious

problem when it comes to Riedel. You guessed it, neither of us have enough room for our collection of wineglasses.

So we had to chuckle when the BC Wine Appreciation Society kicked off their 2010/2011 season with the famous Riedel challengefour wines, four Riedel Vinum XL glasses, plus a Joker glasses. Wines are transferred from glass to glass to see, smell, and taste the difference, and you get to keep the four Riedels at the end. Right, like either of us need four more stems.

Still, glasses get broken, and besides, it’s always fun to see the reaction when people try this experiment for the first time. So here’s an abbreviated recap of our little romp through the evening, starting with some interesting tidbits I’d never heard before about specific glasses. Frank graciously declined to gloat since he seemed to already have all this info filed in the mental databank.

· Riedel created the Vinum XL series’ Pinot Noir glass (6416/67 and shown above left) specifically to complement Oregon’s heartbreak grape… but only after 20 years of relentless pressure from the region’s wine producers.

· The Chardonnay glass (6416/57) is also used for Montrachet and is actually the Pinot Noir glass with the upper half inch or so trimmed off.

· Cactus Club restaurants experienced a 20% increase in wine sales when they began putting Riedel’s restaurant series glasses on the table.

· The expression “here’s mud in your eye” originated when, after the decanter had been emptied, people wanted one more for the road – the final inch of wine that’s left in the bottle of pedigreed Bordeaux or other fine red and filled with sludge and sediment. Mind you, if you google the expression, you’ll find pages of other explanations from rustic to religious. Personally, I like Riedel rep Dave Sanders’ story much better.

· One deep breath in downtown Los Angeles contains more lead than you would ingest from drinking a bottle of wine decanted in a leaded crystal decanter for an entire evening.

Mission Hill (pictured right) kindly donated the wines for this evening, and the line up was impressive. First, 2009 Mission Hill Reserve Riesling in the Riesling Grand Cru glass (6416/51) –

Frank’s desert island glass. If you’re ever shipwrecked on an island with one glass and a wine cellar, this is the one to have. The wine was crisp and fresh with the anticipated delightfully petrol nose. Moved to the Joker, there was a collective gasp of surprise as this award-winning vintage turned dead on the nose, acidic on the palate, and retained not a hint of petrol. In the Chardonnay glass, it exhibited some apricot and peach, but the petrol was still missing.

Full on buttery and smooth in the correct glass, sipping the 2007 Reserve Chardonnay from the Joker glass was only marginally better than flat Perrier water, and in the Riesling glass it turned outright bitter.

By now, people around us were getting the idea, so there were fewer expressions of amazement when the big, aromatic 2005 SLC Merlot (served in the 6416/00 Cabernet Sauvignon glass

first) lost all its huge blackberry taste with beautifully integrated tannins and morphed into obscurity in both the Chardonnay and Riesling stems.

My favourite of the evening was the 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir, but not when we transferred it to the Chardonnay glass where it, too, became nondescript except for a lingering bad aftertaste. In the joker glass it was sharp and bitter the whole way. Tip from Dave: if you’re dining out and they don’t have a Pinot Noir glass, ask for a brandy snifter.

By the time the tasting was over, we’d sampled each wine from each glass. You could tell the folks who hadn’t done this experiment before, because they were the ones walking out of the hotel still shaking their heads. For us, it was just as much fun as the first time we tried it. We just had more room to store the glasses we got that first time.

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