Magical Glasses

“Retweet this to win VIP wine tasting tickets worth £350”.
*click*
What have I got to lose?

Heading home from Malaysia Night my shiny alerted me that I had new mentions. I was a winner!
The exact details of what I’d actually won were still a mystery to me. I mean a £350 wine tasking has got to be pretty special.
I was somewhat gobsmacked when I discovered what the prize included:
2 x tickets to a wine tasting led by Georg Riedel
£150 worth of crystal glasses
Mamba Decanter worth £375

Err, yeah.

The focus of the wine tasting was more about the relationship of the shape of the glass with the wine than about the wine itself.
As someone who uses one glass, regardless of which wine I’m drinking at home, I was intrigued. The concept of different glasses for red and white wine I understood but was a little sceptical at the need for varietal specific glasses.  My mind was about to be blown!

Ash and I met up at London Bridge station after work and wandered over to Vinopolis. Realising we’d arrived rather early, a quick pint in The Rake seemed appropriate.  I’d been to this drinking establishment once before by was far too drunk to remember, other than that they stocked a vast range of craft beer. Now Ash being an ale man this was right up his alley.
We weren’t disappointed. On tap was Little Creatures and my new favourite Old Scratch from Flying Dog brewery. A proper drinking session at the Rake is definitely required in the future.

Back to Vinpolis we went for a champagne welcome, which was part of our VIP package. Some of the Riedel ranges were on show and we were able to ogle at the beautiful glassware.
At 7pm we were ushered into the tasting area only to discover that we had been seated in the front row right in front of the podium.
Three gorgeous Vinum XL glasses laid out at each seat with the wine to be tasted in plastic glasses, as well as water and a Lindor chocolate. We were ready!

          

We started off with a water tasting. Yes, you heard right and you might argue that water tastes of nothing and we did think it a little strange at first.
It was an exercise to demonstrate how differently shaped glasses deliver water to different parts of the tongue and in turn create a different experience.  First up was the beautifully shaped Pinot Noir glass. Curvaceous, voluptuous with a cheeky lip. The flow of the water was directed at the front of the tongue giving it a sweet taste.
Next the Syrah/Shiraz glass with it’s more classic shape, delivering the water to the middle/back of the tongue. Incidently the water tasted more minerally.
Finally the enormous Cabernet Sauvignon glass with it’s litre capacity, flooding the mouth with liquid in a way that would satisfy most thirsts and once again the water tasted sweeter.

Same water, 3 different glasses and 3 totally different taste experiences. I suspected magic was on the way.
As did Ash.

The format for tasting the wine followed what we had done with the water.
The same wine in all three glasses.  First we nosed, then tasted.
Astonishing!
The same wine smelled and tasted completely different in each glass. The Pinot Noit glass brought out the fruity floral notes, whereas the Syrah enhanced the mineral spicy ones.
The Cabernet glass pretty much killed the wines other than the Cabernet Sauvignon.
The tradionally shaped Syrah glass faired best with all three and if it were the only glass available you’d still get a pretty good experience.
I am a convert.
The Pinot Noir in the appropriate glass was juicy, floral and fruity.
The Shiraz in the Syrah glass tasted spicy with a mineral edge, woody earthy aromas.
The Cabernet Sauvignon tasted flat and uninteresting in the Pinot Noir glass but came to life in the enormous Cabernet creation.

Georg also imparted some tips for enjoying wine.
Obviously the company you’re in adds to the pleasure of consuming wine and apparently smiling does too. 

The temperature of the wine plays a big part and the common perception is to enjoy red wine at room temperature.
Coming from a hot country we are known to chill our red wine for a bit before consuming.  Some people will call us heathens for doing this.  Travelling to Singapore I wasn’t too surprised to find they too chill their red wine.
According the “The Man” Georg Riedel red wine will taste infinity better if chilled slightly. 
Earlier this year, Gallo released a Summer Red which should be enjoyed chilled. Hopefully this is something that will catch on.

And lastly decanting and allowing the wine to breathe.
Most of us will pop the cork and leave red wine to breathe for anything between a couple of minutes or a couple of hours.  Decanting will expose the wine to more air decreasing the time necessary and it’s perfectly acceptable to aggitate a New World wine to release the dormant CO2.
If leaving it in the bottle to breathe it would need between 8-12hrs to reach it’s peak.
As Georg mentioned:
“Have you ever opened a bottle of wine, had a glass and thought it wasn’t all that nice and come back to it a day or 2 later and found it to be delicious?”
I have, on a number of occasions.

It was at this point Georg demonstrated the true beauty of the Mamba Decanter I had won. 
It will be used. It has to be used! Then possibly sold at a later date.

   

We enjoyed a brief chocolate pairing with dark Lindor and the cabernet.  There is definitely a trend to match wine, beer and even whisky with food. All very successfully and just adding to the enjoyment.
The glasses used in the tasting we ours to keep and not a single set was left behind. Had I been sticking around in London for longer, investing in more would definitely have been on the agenda.

Having been to wine tastings in the past where the wine was the focus of the evening, learning about how the shape of the glass affects the wine was an informative and mind-blowing experience.
Georg also mentioned that for those of us who used only one glass to drink wine out of at home, we probably steered towards a particular wine as it tasted better in that glass.
Of course the next time I pop a cork I’ll be getting my posh glasses out and experimenting a little.

~Many thanks to Riedel UK for the wondeful prize~

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