Call me a trouble maker but I just can't help it. I went to a wine 'seminar' at a large wine festival recently. The presenter was a local Sommelier and was covering the joys of Rhone Valley (North and South) wines. I had no interest but Mrs. Johnson want to go, so we went. The presentation was fine, I drank the samples and took to day dreaming of how much better it would be if Camille Segeshio was making the presentation in a bikini, when I realized the conversation had migrated on the benefits of Riedel to enhancement of particular varietal aromas and FLAVORS. Mrs. Johnson excused herself and wished me luck storming the castle. Fine woman, she knows when I get in the scrapping mood.
I listened to the assertions, all Riedel party line regurgitations, that the specific varietal/type glasses enhanced the aromas and flavors of those specific varietals/types. There were nods, murmurs, and anecdotes of agreement. Of course, I raised my hand and called forth the maelstrom....
HJ: Did the Sommelier know if there was a 'formula' for each of the Riedel glass type shapes?
HJ: OK, well shouldn't there be? Riedel's assertion is that each glass is specifically shaped to enhance that particular varietal/type?
Answer: Not Sure.
HJ: Well, then wouldn't it follow that if each glass were SPECIFICALLY made for each varietal/type then there would be a specific rim diameter to glass internal shape formula that would have to be followed for each type and that if you changed the rim diameter and internal volume changed, as it does between the 'Sommelier' and the 'Vinum' then the aroma and flavor appreciation would change also? Or simply is 'enhancing aromas' just a matter of aroma concentration?
Answer: Well, I don't know.
HJ: So if these glasses enhance aromas wouldn't the amount of wine poured in the glass be a critical element, drastically affecting the aroma dispersal, and if so, why didn't Riedel etch a 'optimal fill line' on each glass?
Answer: I'm not sure . . .
(At this point the mood in the seminar room was somewhat agitated, obviously I was a heretic, or worse an unrepentant philistine, unable to appreciate the sublime power of Riedel crystal)
HJ: Aromas are one thing but you made the assertion a few minutes ago, backed up by a few people here, that specific glasses enhance FLAVORS too by placing the specific wine on the right part of your tongue. You know that's absurd and prone to 'User Error' because you would have to have you tongue in a correct 'posture' and pour the wine at a specific rate for that to be the case. You can't make assertions of a 'What' without actually knowing the 'How'. No Riedel rep or advocate has ever explained the 'How'.
Answer: I think you're missing the point.
HJ: Oh so the laws of fluid dynamics don't apply to Riedel stemware? Here is my point, rim diameter and glass volume have more to with aroma appreciation than any factors in a wine glass and that Riedel has sold a bill of goods to consumers making them think that their specific shaped glasses. I can tell you that no one from Riedel could give you a technical explanation of the shape difference between the Chablis (Chardonnay) and the Montrachet types in the Sommelier series. And why is one glass labeled Zinfandel /Chianti, and are they actually saying that those two have the exact same characteristics??? And what about Spiegelau, totally different shapes than Riedel? Is Speglieu wrong? Riedel has done a world class marketing job, they should be applauded for it, P.T. Barnum would have loved it.
There verbal back and forth that followed was precious, not one advocate for Riedel could answer any of the questions listed above, no facts were presented only anecdotes, the Sommelier was reduced to simply saying that the glasses enhance the appreciation of aromas, there was no denying that. That's genius, yes, if you have a glass that has a certain rim diameter to volume ratio, the concentration of aromas will be greater. Pure genius, there is a wine snob/sucker born every minute, and their cabinets are jammed with Riedel crystal.