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Riedel glass tasting with Coca Cola

Riedel is known for its plethora of different types of wine glasses. They have become extremely popular, but in BKWine’s tasting room we use other types of wine tasting glasses. Now Riedel has launched a glass specially designed for making Coca Cola tastier. Is it possible? BKWine’s Anette Zellen Söderström reports.

Yes, for us it the vinous crowd it was an odd invitation. But since I am already an avid Riedel lover I wanted of course to see if they could manage to make Coca Cola even tastier.

Possible Riedel needs no introduction. For my part, I first noticed those glasses about 3 years ago. Need I say that I was quite sceptical when I received an invitation that promised me to better taste the wine if only it is served in the right glass? I had my wine tasting glasses from Orrefors which were already quite excellent.

Riedel Coca Cola glasses

Riedel Coca Cola glasses, copyright A Z Soderstrom

It was pretty impressive to see 100 people with beautiful wine glasses in front of them listening to Maximillian Riedel, 11th generation glass manufacturer. He told me about his grandfather Claus J. Riedel, who was a professor and became interested in shapes and what they do for wine. In the early 50s he began producing special glasses for separate grape varieties. Today they also manufacture high-quality glasses mechanically. It was these glasses, the Vinum series, which we got to try three years ago.

Imagine my surprise when we tried a chardonnay in the “wrong” glass, ie sauvignon blanc glass and it tasted overly bitter, or when we switched and tried a sauvignon blanc in a chardonnay glass and the nose almost disappeared! I was surprised and satisfied, and since then our Riedel collection has increased in size and has now completely taken over the glass cabinet. Mostly, it is the Vinum series, but also the hand-blown Sommelier glasses.

Now to today’s tasting where Riedel’s own glass expert Kornel Dura guides us thorough the tasting.

In front of us stand the 3 full plastic glasses of wine and three glasses without a stem, the Riedel O glass.

The O glass was designed by Maximillian 10 years ago due to lack of space in his own home. They can be stacked, unlike wine glasses on a stem. They have become very popular and are also the wine glasses that least expensive in the Riedel wine glass series. I who have been brought up not to handle the bowl of the glass might think it feels a little strange to hold it and besides, I have small hands, making it difficult to hold the biggest glasses.

Kornel explains that we have two extremes in the glasses, the pinot noir glass and the Bordeaux glass, the middle one being a syrah glass. The centre turns out to be a good place for it because Kornel thinks that the syrah glass is more of an all-round glass than the others. Even wines that are not made from the syrah grape will taste ok in the glass anyway.

Riedel O series glasses

Riedel O series glasses, copyright A Z Soderstrom

So we taste. And it is true. Pinot tastes just fine in pinot glass, ok in the syrah glass but is suddenly sour and dull in the Bordeaux glass. The same is true of the cabernet sauvignon wine we are served. It tastes just fine in the Bordeaux glass, ok in the syrah glass, but it becomes incredibly tannic in the pinot glass. Once again, they have proven that there is a difference between glass shapes.

Riedel Coca Cola glass

Riedel Coca Cola glass, copyright A Z Soderstrom

I am pretty curious about the glass that Riedel made for Coca Cola. We all get a Coca Cola bottle and are instructed to pour some in a plastic glass. Kornel points to the plastic glass and shows the big bubbles stuck to the sides, and certainly, we can recognise that. This George wanted to change; you want the bubbles in the glass, not on the glass. We are then instructed to take a sip straight from the bottle. And certainly, the carbonation shows instantly and becomes an involuntary small air bubble in the mouth (burp). The same happens when we drink the drink out of plastic glass, nothing strange about it, it has always been so.

The more interesting thing is how this changed in Riedel’s Coca Cola glass. The glass looks like a traditional Coca Cola glass, as you have seen so many times before, but much thinner, and the bubbles do not stick to the glass.

When drinking, the taste becomes more prominent than the carbonic acid and you avoid the burp. I like this, I who always tend to whisk with a fork because I think there is too much bubbles. But I wonder what others think who like all those bubbles.

The story of how the glass came about is quite amusing. Kornel talks about George Riedl’s meeting with Brad Fields (Global Drinkware Manager at Coca Cola). The meeting took place at Prowein a couple of years ago when Brad in jeans and sweater sauntered into Riedel’s exhibition booth and wondered if you could get some glasses made and who you then had to talk to. A bit of luck was it then that it was George Riedel that he was talking to, who also took Brad seriously. Out of this conversation came extensive work to get the shape right for Coca Cola. Several focus groups tried it. They eventually came up with the right thickness and shape. Amusing then (and surprising) that the shape is recognized as the bottom of a Coke bottle, and similar to many other glasses before the Riedel Coca Cola glass was created.

Is it worth paying some 20 euro for a Coca Cola glass? Well, everyone has to make up his own mind. I will buy a few pieces since I am already, as I said, a Riedel fanatic and like a glass of Coke on occasion. At those occasions I don’t mind it tasting better than before.

Anette Zellén Soderstrom writes on BKWine Magazine mostly about wine and wine tastings in Stockholm. She is an avid wine taster with a long tasting experience and is currently studying to become a sommelier.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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