The Quest For Muscat Glass Design

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Wine glass designer par excellence Georg Riedel last week conducted a tasting in Rutherglen in his quest to find a suitable design for a special Rutherglen Muscat glass.

A group of wine writers and local winemakers tasted a number of muscats in 14 different Riedel glasses, and narrowed them down to just one. The muscats were sourced from five wineries: All Saints (tastings), Campbells (tastings), Morris (tastings), Pfeiffer (tastings) and Stanton & Killeen (tastings). The exercise was precisely structured.

We were first asked to taste all 14 and reject 7. All elimination rounds were decided on the numbers. With a different producer’s muscat, we tasted from those seven remaining and were asked to reject four, leaving three. We repeated the 7-glass tasting with a third producer’s muscat, with similar results. Then we tasted another producer’s muscat from the three finalists, and arrived at a solitary one.

The final three glass shapes were revealed as the Sommelier Cognac XO (a hand-made glass, priced about $100), the Vinum Port glass (about $50) and the Ouverture White Wine Glass (price: $20 retail, and about $5.95 to restaurants). Guess which glass got up? The $20 glass.

I was one of the majority who felt this was the best muscat glass. It gave the most complete experience of the wines, with the best balance and harmony. The runner-up was the Cognac glass, which was also strongly supported. Of course Riedel will not simply go home and re-issue the Ouverture White Wine Glass as the Rutherglen Muscat glass. It will be subjected to more tasting and refinement and the final glass will be hand-made instead of machine-made: a much finer “tasting instrument”, as Georg likes to call them.

The exercise was fascinating and reinforced my belief that glass shape really does influence the way we perceive wines. The only unresolved question is: how do you prefer your wine to taste? More or less intense; sweeter or less-sweet; more or less oaky, alcoholic, acidic or tannic? My approach was: drawing on my experience of these wines, which glass shape presents the wine most authentically? I was happy my answer accorded with the group’s: glass number 10, the cheapie.

*Footnote: Last week I joked that Riedel should launch a Coca-Cola glass. Little did I know, they’ve already done it. Georg Riedel told me last week that the Coke glass had been launched in other parts of the world but as yet, not Australia. 

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