• Are Varietal-Specific Wine Glasses Worth It?

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    photo: slack12

    We have an expensive hobby – wine. We have spent a lot of money on fine wines, sometimes bringing back a bottle as a souvenir from a trip. But so far, we haven’t invested in any expensive wine glasses. We have a pretty set of balloon glasses we got a s a gift, and we have a few white wine glasses we picked up at Crate & Barrel. We also have a couple random souvenir glasses we got at wineries. As we were registering for wedding gifts, I wanted to register for cut crystal glasses, and Him wanted to register for the plainer-looking varietal-specific glasses, like those made by Riedel. I was adamant that the varietal-specific glasses were a marketing ploy designed only to sell more glasses to pretentious oenophiles. Then recently, I was forced to change my opinion.

    Riedel offers a traveling tasting class where you can taste four varietals in six different glasses: 4 different varietal-specific Riedel glasses, a cheap bistro glass, and a plastic cup. They offer this class all around the world, and for $75 you get the wine tasting plus four Riedel glasses. We decided to take the challenge and signed up.

    The class was amazing, and totally changed my opinion about the varietal-specific glasses! The glasses are designed to allow a specific amount of exposure to air, and the shape of the rim directs the wine onto a specific part of your tongue, which changes the way you perceive the characteristics of the wine. Over and over again, each wine proved to taste and smell best in the varietal-specific glass! I was stunned. An expensive glass can improve a cheap wine, and a cheap glass can mute an expensive wine. (Of course, there exist wonderful cheap wines and terrible expensive wines as well.)

    Now we have to decide if we want to spend our hobby budget on wine or glasses!


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