If you pay attention to stemware, you’ve likely heard of Riedel, the Austrian producer of fine crystal. You’ve most likely used a Riedel glass at a winery tasting room in Napa or at a restaurant. Riedel seems to dominate the high-end stemware market, producing nearly as many glasses as there are varieties of grapes, across various product lines geared to different consumers (and different levels of price sensitivity).
Since then, I’ve seen them more and more, especially among the ranks of the young(er) and natural winemakers. However, they seem to be increasing in popularity among the culinary community in general. we most recently sighted them at Quince and Charlie Bird.
Is it possible that a small, family-owned producer of lead-free, artisanal, hand-blown stemware could best the venerable Riedel? This was the subject of our recent Zalto vs Riedel pseudo-scientific Saturday evening stemware study. People blind taste wine all the time, so we figured why not blind taste stemware?
Wouldn’t you know by the feel of the glass which you were tasting from? Good question. Not if you do it this way. Pour two (or more) glasses of identical wine (the wine is the “control” in this experiment). Close your eyes (or wear a blindfold) and have a partner hold each glass to your lips. You don’t touch the glass and you don’t see the glass, so you’re free to concentrate on tasting. Yes, it looks weird and yes, it feels awkward, but you are doing this for science.