After more than two decades of selling his stemware in Canada, Austrian glassmaker Georg Riedel believes there is more awareness about wine today than ever, especially among younger drinkers.
"It's the brides and grooms and the young generation who are interested," says Riedel, who famously created a range of wines glasses specifically designed to enhance the enjoyment of the different styles available.
"They are looking for the right tools for wine enjoyment. They have embraced the varietal specific concept and aren't just shopping for a red wine glass, a white wine glass, a Champagne flute and a water glass."
Instead, Riedel explains they are stocking up on specific glasses for Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other popular wine varieties. It's a far cry from the early visits, where he spoke specifically to winemakers and seasoned wine lovers in a bid to gain acceptance.
"There will always be a strong community of followers for beer, but the wine culture across North America has grown," he says.
His company has grown with the market. The Riedel Glass Works, which owns and operates the Riedel, Spiegelau and Nachtmann brands, has become one of the largest producers of quality glass in Europe.
Many of its biggest innovations have come in the design of wine glasses, including the development of the popular lineup of stemless tumblers and a set of stems tailor-made for riper and richer wines from so-called New World wine regions.
By adjusting the size of the bowl and the opening of the glass, Riedel seeks to amplify the aroma and enhance the best flavour characteristics.
"Only now are consumers recognizing how glasses can influence their perception, enjoyment and understanding of wine," says Riedel, who estimates nearly 50,000 people each year participate in educational tastings the company conducts to display how different glass shapes affect the enjoyment of different wines.
These sessions are a vinous shell game of sorts that lead participants to taste the same wine in a series of glasses so they can see how, say, a Sauvignon Blanc tastes in a big fishbowl on a stem glass ideally suited for Pinot Noir. Much of the pungent aroma is lost in the larger volume bowl compared the smaller, more focused opening of the glass designed for aromatic white wines.
"It is not our aim to complicate," Riedel says, noting how people's preference for wine glasses hinge on looks, price and convenience.
"We cannot set a trend," he continues. "Riedel is always reliant on winemaking and the consumer of wine to dictate what specific tools for wine enjoyment they desire."
Wines of the Week:
Babich Wines 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand
BC $19.75 (560144) | AB $19 | ON $14.95 (620054)
Vibrant aromas of tropical fruit and fresh herbal notes are pleasingly followed up by fruity flavours and a lush texture. This refreshing white is a perfect tonic for anyone experiencing Spring fever.
Douglas Green 2011 The Beach House Sauvignon Blanc Semillion
Western Cape, South Africa
BC $10.99 (120972) | ON $9.95 (122390)
The new vintage of this crowd-pleasing South African white blend continues to impress with its fruity personality and bracing character. The invigorating style of the Beach House works nicely as an aperitif and would complement many lighter fish and salad dishes.