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swirl and savor

A Special Glass for a Very Special Wine

Beth Ribblett

Riedel's Oregon Pinot Glass
During our visit to Oregon's Willamette Valley last October, we made our way to a few tasting rooms and wineries from Dundee to Amity.  Each place we went to used a specific Riedel glass that I had never seen before.  A different than their regular Burgundy glass, James informed us that Riedel designed a specific glass for Oregon Pinot Noir, and it was a joy to drink from!  Hmmm, yet another indication that the world is taking Oregon Pinot pretty seriously! 

Apparently they were created during several workshops with the famed Oregon growers and producers.  The shape of this Riedel Vinum XL Pinot Noir glass is said to show the fresh compact fruit of Northwest Pinot Noir and highlight the irresistible sweetness, while perfectly balancing the acidity and de-emphasizing the alcohol to create a perfect picture of the wine. Or, in the words of Georg Riedel, this new stem is 'The perfect Oregon Pinot Noir dream glass.'

I've done some research over the last week about what makes this shape so special and came across an article from an Oregon Pinot publication that did a test with the Oregon vs the Burgundy glass.  Here's what they did and their results:
Riedel Burgundy Glass
I assembled my Ad Hoc Tasting Panel (defined as whoever shows up) and we tried five Oregon pinots in three different glasses each: A ten ounce wine bar glass; a 25 oz Riedel Pinot Noir / Burgundy glass (the standard to date) and the Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir Glass. The panel included two winemakers and a host of experienced palates.

Here’s the short-version of the results: The glasses are the best stem for Oregon pinot noir I’ve ever used. The new stem enhances both the aroma and the palate of Oregon pinot noir to such a degree that I’m buying dozens and dozens of the new glass for use in my wine bar as well as for use at home. It’s that good. The flared top requires that you tilt either the glass or your head to such a position that the wine Vs. B.C. hits the back of the palate first. The wide rim also sends the wine cascading down the sides of your tongue. The result is an enhanced fruit impression and much less emphasis on structure. The wines simply taste more open-knit and fruit-forward. The tried-and-true Riedel Burgundy stem, by contrast, forces the taster to nearly pucker up to receive the wine, and directs the wine onto the front of the tongue and straight down the middle. The tongue ends up cupping the wine. This clearly puts an emphasis on darker fruit flavors and enhances the impact of any tannins. 

I'm thinking we may have to do our own test!  What are my chances of getting 10 volunteers to help us out? :)