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Does a Perfect Wine Glass Exist for an Iberian Wine, Or at Least a Montsant Wine?

IMG_1297Yesterday, I had the very  rare opportunity to attend my first wine glass tasting hosted by DO Montsant and  George Riedel of the legendary Riedel glass company. And despite the inference that I spent my morning licking a series of wine glasses, the truth, albeit slightly less exotic, was equally as entertaining.

As we have discussed with you in our previous article, we have recently learned that Montsant wines are very unique in their style. High in both acidity and tannin, which expresses their beautiful earthy, dark fruit and mineral composition, these wines generally call for a larger wine glass. But like many wine regions, DO Montsant was seeking for the “perfect” glass to fully express their wines.

But how does one find the “perfect glass”?

A panel of 19 tasters, which included 3 women (myself, Sarah Perez -  wife of René Barbier JR,  and Isabelle Meyer – wife of René Barbier Sr), joined together at swanky wine restaurant called, Monvinic, in Barcelona.

With 16 glasses lined up in front of me, ranging from gigantic Burgundy Grand Cru glass from their Sommelier Line to the tiny and petite, what I believe to be, Rheingau glass in their Vinum line, our goal was simple: elimination through democracy.

We were asked to eliminate a determined number of glasses in 4 flights until the winner was eventually decided. All four wines, one for each flight, were red and of the same vintage, but could consist of either a monovarietal or a blend. At the end of the flight, the number of people wanting to eliminate each glass was counted, and by majority, the glasses receiving the total number of negative votes in each flight would be eliminated

Flight 1

Eliminate 6 glasses

As predicted during the introduction, this flight was by far the easiest for the group, as the majority of the white wine or rosé glasses were voted “off the island”. The only oddity of this flight, was the elimination of the Cabernet Sauvignon glass. According to George, “It is rare that the Cabernet Sauvignon glass would be eliminated so early, as it is worldwide, the most successful glass. However, it tells us that when we think of a Montsant wine, we do not think of the green notes that are highlighted by this glass.” Assuming that this glass does increase our awareness of “green notes”, what is interesting is that we heard several Montsant winemakers share with us that they were interested in tearing up their Cabernet plants for other varietals,  such as Syrah. I’ll let you come to your own conclusion about that one.

This round ended in a tie, and consequently, only 5 glasses were eliminated.

Flight 2

Eliminate 5 glasses (Increased by 1 due to the tie)

In this round the “Rioja” glass was eliminated, which proved interesting to several Montsant winemakers who may have secretly enjoyed the fact that their wines didn’t have any perceived relationship with their “famed” brethren in the North.

sommeliers_4400-31_popupFlight 3

Eliminate 3 glasses

This is when my attention span began to wane into the dark day glow background around me. To be honest, I completely agree that smaller glasses do inhibit the aroma of a big red wine. It was abundantly clear that the majority of white and rosé wines, characterized by their smaller size and more narrow shape, are not the “ideal” glass for any red wine. However, at this point, the six remaining glasses were similar enough in shape and size that this debate became rather insignificant. Sure, my heart was set on a beautiful Rhone glass that I’m still dreaming of having in my house, but beyond aesthetics, anyone could have happily enjoyed a Montsant wine in any one of these glasses. Were they different? At this point, yes, there were some marked differences in a few of them, but for an average consumer, they were quite similar.

Flight 4

Eliminate 2 glasses

For all practical purposes, there was zero difference between these glasses. If I didn’t see these glasses side by side to compare their nuances, I’m not confident I, or most people, could tell the difference.  On the other hand, I could argue that my beautiful Rhone glass showed harsher tannins in the mouth than the other two glasses, but was it the glass, or the fact that we switched from blends to a 100% Grenache?

Two of the remaining glasses were designed as Rhone glasses, and though both are exquisite to look at, they too were voted off the island. The winning glass was developed for Marques de Griñon as their Tempranillo glass for their Tinto Reserva, as shown in the photo.

Is the new Montsant glass the ideal glass for all Montsant wines?

If you want an incredibly gorgeous glass to drink your Montsant wines out of, I say, go for it!  However, I am not of the opinion that you need a Riedel to enjoy a Montsant wine. Whether it be a Riedel, a supermarket wine glass, a beer mug, a thermos or a Dixi cup, it’s not what your drinking the wine out of, it’s the fact that you’re actually seeking out, and experimenting with, various Montsant wines.

Do you believe there is such a concept as a “perfect” glass for a particular style or varietal of wine? Does the glass make a difference to you when tasting wine, or does it depend on your motivation for having the wine in the first place?

Cheers,

Gabriella Opaz

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  • José

    Was the Rioja glass eliminated the Tempranillo Vinum? Was the Marqués de Griñón Reserva glass the Riedel Tempranillo Sommelier?

    Thanks in advance,
    José

    • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

      Hello José,

      To be honest, after the eliminations from the second flight were counted, and the glasses removed, did we hear that the Rioja glass was eliminated. Which glass was it is specifically, I don’t know, but I’m happy to do some research for you.

      As to the final winner, the glass you see above in the photo is, as you so astutely pointed out, the Marqués de Griñón Reserva glass from the Riedel Tempranillo Sommelier line.

  • Bill

    I have been drinking out of Riedel Vinum stemware for over 10 years. They increase the enjoyment I get from consuming my favorite beverage significantly, not only by taste and smell, but the way one can interact with the wine in the glass by swirling. I own Bordeaux, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc stems and will swear by them. Perfect matches? Maybe not, but definitely superior to your standard restaurant/bar wine glass.

  • http://blog.oe-no-phile.com Ryan Reichert

    The only time I’ve had an actual issue with glass style was when presented with a huge Burgundian bowl to drink a Muscat de la Loire. It was entirely lost in the big mouthed glass, and despite our waitress’s protest I asked for a smaller glass. Turns out she just didn’t have enough of the correct glasses cleaned for our table. Poor form I felt.

    Other than that, my primary experience with Spanish wines is drinking out of water/juice glasses. No need for fancy stemware on the Meseta!

    • http://blog.oe-no-phile.com Ryan Reichert

      edit: Muscadet* rather

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  • jjnewman

    Riedel glasses are beautiful to drink from. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys wine. They will enhance the pleasure in your hand. I would however be careful if choosing the “Vitis” range. The pinot noir glasses are a horror story to clean. Happy slurping!

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