The world market leader in designer wine glassware has mainly been Riedel for sometime now, mainly because there was little competition. Glass was glass and most felt that ISO was for competition judging – and Riedel for the rest.
Of course, there are many fine European glass brands but few owners had turned their minds towards varietal and regional wine glass shapes as Riedel did. The proliferation of glass shapes by Riedel was a simple marketing theory soaking up the world’s wine production through differentiation.
When that was exhausted, the company moved onto new ranges based on new shapes and deluxe pricing – even stem extension.
The worst glass Riedel has ever released was the tumbler shape, often construed as a water glass but widely used as a wine glass. This shape tends to destroy the aroma of wine and also alters the wine palate – my tip is never to use this glass to drink wine. If unsure, test a tumbler model alongside a stemmed glass of any brand with the same wine. The difference can be noted by anyone as it is that obvious.
Plumm glass is owned by Ambient Australia, a previous importer of Riedel glass in Australia for the past fifteen years prior. The company is based in Melbourne while the glass is designed in Australian; however, the crystal glass is manufactured in Europe.
I had an informative session at Brisbane’s The Villager Supper Club recently with Plumm’s Australian chief, ex-New York sommelier John Pfister, demonstrating the brand’s Type A and Type B super tasting and drinking glasses (pictures below).
John served a series of fine varietal wines – chardonnay (white burgundy), wooded sauvignon blanc (Marlborough), sparklings (Champagne Henriot NV and Rose NV), pinot (red burgundy), cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. In each case, I was given the option to enjoy these wines in either glass A or glass B.
White Wine: The wider mouth glass A suited chardonnay and wooded sauvignon; no doubt the more restrained shape B would perform better for riesling, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris etc where an aromatic power of the nose is everything. Lesson 1.
Champagne: Both glasses presented the two champagnes excellently, providing a good aroma and clear complexity from the long residence on yeast as the Reims-based house of Henriot does.
Bear this in mind the next time you reach for a flute. The Champenois will pour you wine from a coup, not a flute (American shape).
Red Wine: The pinot performed better in glass A; as pinot is a grape, it needs to display its perfume. Hence the wider glass made this the most enjoyable drink.
For cabernet and shiraz, there is a preference for the constrained glass B, although I would advise ardent red wine appreciators to test the range of Plumm shapes to determine their best experience.
And forget about drinking good wine from tumblers.
Peter Scudamore-Smith is a Brisbane-based Master of Wine, winemaker and educator www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au
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