Riesling in Two Glasses

RieslingGlassesIn the most recent version of their Wine Glass Guide, Riedel, the wine glass company, suggests that Spätlese Riesling might be consumed from the Montrachet glass instead of the traditional Zinfandel/Riesling glass previously recommended. Your Private Wineaux decided to give the two glasses a side-by-side comparison.

Riedel, as you may know, are pioneers in the concept of varietal specific glassware for wines. They’ve spent many years testing and consulting with growers, winemakers, and other varietal experts, fine-tuning their glasses so that each wine may be experienced optimally. While there are certainly still some skeptics, once you’ve taken the test – Riedel offers special glassware tasting classes around the country – you can’t help but agree that the folks at Riedel are on to something.

Which leads us to tonight’s experiment. What are the results?

The wine chosen for the test was the 2007 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, a classic German example from the Nahe. A lush gold in color, it’s wildly aromatic giving white flowers and Royal Anne cherries on the nose (with hint of petrol) and on the layered palate (with hint of mineral),  with a good balance between residual sugar and acidity.

The Zinfandel glass (left in the photo) emphasizes the petrol/mineral notes and Riesling’s famous acidity. That’s the story both on the nose and on the palate: mineral, mineral, mineral. The fruit is there, to be sure, but the minerality is more present. The wine is more bracing, refreshing even, thanks to the emphasis on that characteristic acidity.

In the Montrachet glass (right), the wine comes off rounder and fatter on the nose, with more of the plush stone fruit aspects. Acidity, while still quite present, is deemphasized in this glass. It feels richer throughout the palate, except on the finish where the bracing acidity asserts its presence.

So which glass? It depends on what you want. Choose the traditional Zinfandel glass for more minerally notes and better acidity emphasis. It’s the glass you want for sipping and with traditional fat heavy German dishes like bratwurst, Hasenpfeffer, or Spätzle. Choose the Montrachet glass for more contemporary dining. The deemphasized acidity will make it a perfect glass for use with spicy Asian, African, or Cajun fare.

Everyone, lift your glasses!

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