the difference between cut rim and rolled rim [after Riedel]

The same wine seems completely different when it is served in different glasses: experienced tasters were made to believe that they were tasting a different wine when the same wine was served in a different glass.

Use 8-10 ounce (25-30 cl) glasses whose opening is smaller than the wider part of the bowl in order to concentrate aromas. They may be made of glass or crystal depending on your budget. They must be


aromas in the glass 'impitoyable no 2' yellow is primary aromas, green secondary and blue tertiary

When wine is poured, it evaporates and the aromas quickly fill the glass in layers according to their density. The lightest vapors (most fragile, flower and fruit aromas) are at the rim, the heaviest (wood and alcohol) on the bottom. The middle is filled with green vegetal and earthy mineral aromas. Consequently the size and the shape of the glass can be fine-tuned to the typical aromas of a particular wine. Slender, eggshaped glasses emphasize lightest vapors. Very large glasses with a capacity of more than 25 ounces allow you to sniff through the layers of bouquet by inhaling extremely gently and consistently for more than ten seconds. You can smell through the fruit aromas to the alcohol fumes.

This is shown in the picture on the right which represents the aromas in the glass 'impitoyable no 2'. Yellow is primary aromas, green secondary and blue tertiary.


The shape of the glass forces the head to position itself in such a way that you drink and do not spill. Wide open glass shapes require us to sip by lowering the head. Narrow rims roll the head backwards and the liquid flows because of gravity. This delivers the beverage to different zones of the palate. The initial contact point depends on the shape and volume of the glass, the diameter of the rim, and its finish (whether it is cut and polished or rolled edge) as well as the thickness of the crystal.

Riedel tune the shape of their glasses to fit the wine drunk. If it is very acidic, they try to direct the wine away from the tasting buds that taste acidity to make the wine feel less acid. The 'acidity spoiler' (a gently curved lip around the rim) of the glass on the left makes the tip of the tongue unconsciously curve up, so the wine goes straight to the sweetness-sensitive taste receptors.

On the other hand, the wide mouth of the glass on the right, designed for Montrachet wine, is generously shaped glass steers the wine mainly to the sourness-sensitive edges of the tongue, ensuring that the acidity is sufficiently emphasised to create a harmonious balance.

The glass in the middle is the I.N.A.O. glass, an "all-purpose" tasting glass.

Riedel's Rheingau glass I.N.A.O glass Riedel's Montrachet glass
Riedel's Rheingau glass    I.N.A.O glass    Riedel's Montrachet glass   

"Les impitoyables (TM)" have extreme shape that make them merciless (impitoyables.) Above is shown number 2 which is designed for white wine. These glasses cost about $ 45 a piece.


Crystal glasses can get expensive, so you do not want to be careful. After cleaning them, hang them in a cupboard. If the glasses are not used frequently, nose them before serving.



Mazers and horns

If you want to have the mood over the taste, you can forget about the sassy crystal stemware and choose a mazer or horn instead. They are historical vessels used to drink mead and they can bring you back to the good old times of the Celts or the Vikings.

mazer by Robin Wood close-up on a horn by Bill Dawson


January 27th 2003