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Glassware Experiments

I’ve been doing an experiment for a while for my own benefit. I may have been taken in by the marketing at LWF many years ago but the glass demonstration grabbed me and I started buying Riedel vinum to match different wines. Nothing really wrong with that in any eventuality if you have the space for them, but I started getting annoyed with the number of different glasses I had accumulated and bought some Riedel Magnums which I have been slowly testing against each vinum glass as appropriate.

My main conclusions are:

  1. Yes, I can percieve a difference in how the wine smells and tastes using different glasses. However;
  2. The differences are not great, and I’m not convinced they make the wine taste better, just that the different shapes can emphasise slightly different things.

So I’ve decided that I can ditch the range, and stick with Riedel magnum for reds, and Riedel vinum chardonnay/viognier for whites. Works for me at least, and keeps it simple.

The only potential exception is for red Burgundy, I do think the balloon shape helps here so I’m keeping one for the rare occasions I drink it.


Your other reply was reasonable and duly noted.

But “tosh” is not an opinion on the subject at hand, and more a dismissal of other (unspecified) opinions.


Steve, my ‘tosh’ isn’t aimed at anyone else’s view. It is my view of the claims made by messrs Reidel etc who peddle the concept. For instance in the stemless ‘O’ series of glasses, which I have a set of, the ones specified for red wines are fine, but ‘why oh why’ would you have a stemless glass identified for white wines where one’s hand/fingers warm the wine by touch. Bizarre!
Sorry to sound forthright and apologies if you are put out.


I have to say, I am totally baffled by stemless glasses, whatever the colour of the wine.


Now that’s the more thorough explanation I think Steve was probably looking for. Makes perfect sense and you sound a lot more rational (and less cantankerous :kissing_heart:)


For me I don’t notice that much of a difference in taste when, on occasion, I have to drink wine out of a tumbler or even a mug! Yes a well shaped wine glass can concentrate the aromas some and is preferable but I’m not sure a cheapo heavy supermarket glass gives a significantly different aroma/taste to an expensive Zalto or whatever. However I do think the more expensive glass enhances the experience. My glasses are Krosnos, nothing fancy but nice thin glass that simply feels good to drink out of.

One complaint I have with what seems to be a current trend of wide glasses that taper quite steeply to a narrowish rim is that the last mouthful often seems to require me to tip my head uncomfortably far back to get it down that steep slope.


Totally agree with this. My parents gave me a few of the new world Pinot noir of the stemless O series. They are massive and grubby fingerprints get everywhere, but at least they don’t potentially make your wine taste worse.

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As the proud owner of some Riedel O Viognier/Chardonnay glasses bought for the best part of nothing, I think they’re very nice glasses that I use frequently. However I don’t use them for wine.

Nevertheless, in a setting where you’re not holding the glass constantly and wine isn’t the focus, I think the objections to them as wine glasses are way overstated - you really don’t hold them long enough to make that much difference to the temperature increase with hand heat. And there are advantages in terms of storage space and ease of washing up/dishwasher filling.

For me (not using them for wine) the ones I have are a very convenient size where all the ones intended for red wine are way too big for any of the things I put in it.


Alternatively, strangely enough parties are one function where the propensity for breaking glasses is high. Stemless glasses are ideal for this but unfortunately are held in the hand for considerable periods. A totally different argument.


I think we can all agree that those tiny Paris goblet things are the devil’s work, and should be trampled into fine dust, encased in concrete, then put into deep geological burial, in a similar way to nuclear waste.


That removes the ambiguity, and I appreciate your clarification.

For what it’s worth, I agree with your view of Riedel marketing. It’s shocking. Apart from anything else, I believe some of it is still based of the now-discredited taste-map of the tongue.

All other things being equal I prefer glasses with stems. I do own stemless ones, but have a different view of when they are apporopriate.

I find the red ones too large to swill properly, but they make excellent glasses for G&Ts :slight_smile:

The small Chardonnay/Viognier (Reidel) ones, I use for any wine outside the house, as they are easy to transport and a lot less likely to break than medium or large stemmed glassss. I take them to BYO restaurants that have poor wine glasses, and also use them in the garden. My glasses stand on the table most of the time so I don’t see warming as a problem, but I can it might be an issue in other circumstances.

(Ah, I see some of my points were made by others while I was typing!)

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Has anyone come across any decent drying racks for both glasses and decanters?


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The Joseph Joseph adjustable drainers work well for most glasses

For decanters I have a metal rod on a wide base, with a rubber tip, similar to this

Image from Virgin Wines

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In total agreement, I really enjoy using Zaltos glasses ! have you tried either of the decanters ? thinking of investing in one of these next.

ISO. Tasting glasses are the work of the devil, the quality of glass definitely needs an upgrade.

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I doubt this will persuade you to use them, but it’s only the size and shape that is specified by ISO. If you pay more money you can get better glass, and without the nasty thick rolled lip.


The thing about decanters is that the thinness of the glass is an irrelevance, so basically if you have the same surface exposure you’re paying for looks.

That said, I’ve never used a Zalto decanter (but did enjoy the ridiculous shapes of Riedel decanter available at Hide).


JC21 I have not tried the Zalto decanters but I was given the Jancis Robinson decanter which is excellent. I do have a Waterford decanter about 45 years old and a Riedel ships decanter both of which are still going strong.

Make some reasonably good quality coffee. Put some into each of 3 different containers – (a) a thick chunky mug, (b) a teacup and, © a small expresso cup. Drink from each. If you can taste a slight difference, then it is worthwhile your progressing to experiment with different wine glasses for your wine.

In my case, I can find very slight differences (can make myself appreciate a difference) using differently shaped glasses for the same wine – but certainly not to the extent claimed by Riedel!

The thesis?
Set aside for the moment the different degrees to which one can more/less easily aerate a wine using different size and shape of glass. Taste receptors for salt, sweet, sour, bitter, umami are found all over your tongue (and palate of your mouth) but do have a slight difference in numbers in different locations (generally more on tip & sides of tongue) and probably different distribution gradient for different people as well. When you drink from a differently shaped glass (eg. small mouthed conical vs broad & large opening), your mouth and lips unconsciously shape themselves differently and allow the initial intake and array of impact to differently distributed receptors in a different way. The amount of aroma drawn in to circulate up into the back of your nose may also be different and of course smells form a large part of the ‘taste’ of the wine.

I naturally tend to ‘glug’ coffee from a mug whilst sipping and ‘slurping’ it delicately from an expresso cup. So the next time you try a different wine glass, pay attention to how you are shaping your mouth and lips. Maybe you ‘glug’ it or ‘suck’ it up noisily the same way for all shapes (and thin-ness) of wine glass. In which case you may not find any difference between glasses.
{Some glasses are still nicer to look at though!].


There is this lovely store called IKEA and they sell the most wonderful wine glass (500 to 550ml). It’s nice and wide at the base and you pour a lovely layer of wine to coat the bottom. And because of the shape you can do the swirly swirly let’s release aromas/oxygenate thingy. The glass then proceeds to culminate in a narrower opening than the bottom so that your nostrals can really set to work. The other great thing is that they are not thick and meh but elegant in shape, delicate in glass thickness and when you have people over (pre Covid folks so don’t get excited) your friends, family actually admire them so much that they say they wish they had glasses like that (assuming that because I enjoy wine/have some wine knowledge that they must be fancy-dan glasses) well no folks they are £1.50 and they are excellent.


There are indeed some very good glasses to be bought very reasonably. The Aldi specials aisle is also a good place to keep an eye on - we bought a lot of Champagne glasses there cheaper than some places were charging for hire.

The only issue might be in the longer term - when you have broken a few, it may be difficult to find matching replacements. It may not be an issue for you to have matching glasses, and could well work out cheaper in the long run just to buy replacement sets anyway. But for our general-purpose glasses I decided to spend an extra few quid per galss, and buy a brand and range that was more likely to stick around - we went for Schott Zwiesel Viña.

For the best prices (better than the norm 20% or so “discount”) on other brands - maybe not Schott Zwiesel - TK Maxx is good.

And specifically for Riedel-owned brands (not just Riedel itself) google “Whitebridge Wines”, who sell at very low prices - mainly stock returned by shops to Riedel because they were unable to sell it. If they don’t have what you want right know, get on their mailing list to be informed when they get new stock. That’s where I got my Riedel Os