I have experienced two presentations by George Riedel. The most recent presentation was in Toronto at Bohmer Restaurant. This presentation was to promote a new line by Riedel, the XL Series. Only industry professional were invited to attend. I also saw George present his wine glasses two years ago at a presentation called Riedel in the Home: The Glory of the Glass at the 2009 Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. Both presentations were different and amazing.
For those who don’t know, Riedel is the wine glass company. There are over 250 years of history for the Austrian family run company. But it wasn’t until George Riedel took the reins of the company, and changed the way wine was served in the 1980s. George has wine glasses that make wine taste better. Glasses that are hand crafted to showcase the attributes of wines appropriately. Because a Pinot Noir is a very different wine from a Cabernet Sauvignon, so it deserves a different wine glass. The same is true for Chardonnay and Riesling. No doubt, there is a wide range of stems available. Each glass is calculated to a size and shape for reason. The width and hight of the bowl, the lip of the glass, the circumference of the opening of the glass are all made in mind of how to best deliver the contents of the glass to the consumer.
I had heard about how George Riedel’s tastings are must attend events. So when George was presenting at the Vancouver Club during the 2009 Playhouse Wine Festival, I signed up! The tasting was in a large room, with grand decor, there must have been fifty plus settings laid out for the attending guests. Each setting had a tasting mat set with five glasses. From left to right, there was “the joker” a staple in the presentation, it is a plastic cup, the kind used for complimentary drinks on airplanes, and four elaborate Riedel stems from the Vitis Collection filled with generous tasting amounts of the appropriate wines. George began the presentation. He has an old world serious tone and presence to him that commands attention. Being a professional presenter, he cracked some funny jokes along the way to lighten the air. He had the audience sniffing and tasting, pouring wine from one glass to another – including “the joker” from which it is impossible to smell anything. Even tasting the aromatic white from the Bordeaux glass, it was obvious the delicate wine was lost in the great big glass. After all the swishing and swirling, the panel of winemakers and representatives on stage presented their wines. Including, 2006 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, 2005 Thompson Estate Chardonnay from the Margaret River, 2006 Herder Pinot Noir from the Similkameen Valley and 2005 Signorello Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Once the hour and a half presentation was over, all the attendees left with smile on their face, a new appreciation for stemware and a big black Riedel bag with a set of Vitis stems. Wow. It truly was a must see presentation.
More recently in October 2010 I had the opportunity to see George present his new XL Series in Toronto. I jumped at the chance. The Toronto west end dinning room was arranged in a boardroom like setting for the presentation. Every seat was set with two tasting mats and seven glasses. Only three red wines were poured at this event. The Vine Wine Agency supplied the Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon – all from California. The first task was to tilt the wine glasses on their sides until the wine reached the lip of the glass. George explained how the different glass shapes forced the wine to flow to the edge and as a result the wine would be delivered to the drinkers palate at a certain angle. The Pinot Noir glass had a distinct lip to the glass that brought the wine to a fine point when tilted, this unique shape ensured the wine would be delivered to the middle of the palate. Where as the Cabernet Sauvignon glass was so large that wine would enter the drinkers mouth in a large swoop. The delivery of the wine helped with the body of the respective styles of wine and it aided in tannin management. Tasting a red wine in the wrong wine glass could make that tannins seam harsh and green. This tasting had a different tone from the entertaining Playhouse presentation. George was on tour presenting the new series. His time is valuable. He had no patience for attendees on cell phones or ones of the the chatty nature. He simply stopped his presentation until they noticed. A little embarrassing to be called out like that in front of your peers by the king of stemware. Yikes. Overall the presentation was great. I gained a few more Riedel stems for my collection and more reassurance on why I love Riedel stems.
I am always pleased to see a winery tasting room or a restaurant using Riedels. It shows me that they respect the wine they are serving and the guests they are serving it to. So thank you to all respectful wine outlets. And thank you Riedel for enhancing wine experiences everywhere.