I admit that I was highly skeptical at first. To think that wine tastes comparatively better in a type of glass seemed a bit esoteric or downright inconclusive for me. So as I tasted I continued to experiment with glassware, one after one. About ten years ago I took one of the Riedel Comparative Workshops which evaluates whether the right glass changes how wine tastes. I was absolutely floored by the demonstration and the compelling evidence from the workshop. Strangely, my analytical mind still wasn't entirely convinced.
At home while tasting I continued to experiment on my own, trying Sauvignon Blanc in Pinot glasses, Merlot in a Chardonnay glass and I became more intrigued. I decided to take the Riedel class once again, this time led by Riedel CEO Georg Riedel (video link to similar presentation) . We compared everything from water to Coke to Cabernet Franc and everything in between. This second class was the deal-breaker for me. Wine needs to be served from the correct glass every time because the difference in aromatics and flavors are remarkably different.
I have followed this strict philosophy in every wine that I review because I feel that it is so imperative to taste wine the way that wine is supposed to show. Just as some wineries instruct me to decant a wine for three plus hours prior to reviewing, I feel that reviewing wine out of the wrong glass gives the reviewer an inaccurate presentation of a wine -- just as the seeing first act of a play doesn't equate to the entire performance.
I have some suggestions for those who might be more interested in experimenting on their own with the correct stemware for each varietal:
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir : For California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
I think that Pinot Noir is a varietal that is absolutely imperative to show in the correct stemware. I've experimented with each glass for many years and I have actually found a pretty large difference between having California and Oregon Pinot Noir served in each respective glass.
The same has been true with Chardonnay, although I have found less differences in how Oregon Chardonnay shows between the Oregon and California glass. In truth, I think the differences tend to be minuscule, only slightly different on the nose.
Syrah: For Washington Syrah
For Washington Syrah I have found that the wine shows marvelously in this 'Old World Syrah' glass. I have found this to be true for non-Walla Walla Rocks AVA wines as well as Walla Walla Rocks AVA wines. I have experimented fairly extensively between Cabernet and Syrah glasses for Syrah. While the Cabernet glasses tend to show well for Syrah, I have found that in particular with the Walla Walla Rocks AVA, the wines are far more expressive aromatically with the Riedel Syrah glass. This seems to be highly compelling evidence that every lover of the Walla Walla Rocks AVA should have a few of these Riedel Syrah glasses.
Cabernet Sauvignon: For Washington and California Cabernet Sauvignon
I also really like the Vinum Extreme for these wines but the Vinum is considerably more expensive and I have not found a considerable difference in aromatics and flavors by using both of these glasses. I have also found over time that the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal tends to show more impressively with the Cabernet glass than the Syrah glass.
Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc: For Washington and California Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc
After some long experiments, I feel that Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc show incredibly similarly in the same glass. I've chosen this glass because I feel that purchasing a separate glass for Riesling might be a tad excessive. Riedel also recommends this wine for California Zinfandel, which I find to show considerably better in this glass than in a larger glass, like that for Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. For those who enjoy crisp whites for summer, this glass is really a must-purchase.