Changing flavours: A masterclass dedicated to the enjoyment of wine


In my line of work, I get to attend a lot of events. Some are entertaining and others informative. I recently attended an event that was both of these and so much more. To say it was educational would be an understatement. The Riedel Masterclass organised by by Mirachem (Wines and Spirits) Limited, importers on Riedel glassware in Malta was an absolute revelation to me.

At home I have a set of 4 Riedel wine glasses. They are my “good” glasses, that I only pull out for special dinner parties. I classify them as “good” because they are made of fine crystal while my regular ones are just glass; but in terms of shape they are exactly the same.  Most of us know that generally white wine is served in smaller, narrower glasses and red in larger one, while champagne is usually served in flutes. However, those very simplistic daily norms are very far from what I learnt at the Riedel Veritas Champagne tasting.


Although Mirachem do host an annual masterclass by the premier makers of wine glasses in the world, this was the first time that Riedel held this type of champagne tasting for the general public in the world. It is normally reserved for sommeliers and wine professionals. The event was conducted by Marco Baldini, Riedel Vice President for Sales and Marketing for South East Europe. Riedel are pioneers in creating glasses in different shapes that all influence taste, as discovered by ninth generation Claus Reidel in 1973. Today the Austrian company is still 100% family owned and is renowned for its dedication to the enjoyment of wine.


It felt like walking into a very sophisticated classroom, as guests filled the banqueting hall at the Intercontinental Malta. Each seat had set before it 4 Wine glasses carefully aligned in the order in which we would be using them.

The ultimate aim of the evening was to lead us to an understanding of how champagne should be enjoyed through an evolution of the 4 different glasses. In fact, in commemoration of its 260-year anniversary, this year Riedel launched its first ever Champagne Glass.

The first wine we sampled was an oaked Chardonnay in a rather imposing balloon glass. I am usually not a fan of chardonnay in any form, however, the buttery, creamy flavour of this wine was outstanding. The wide, open balloon allowed the wine to cover the whole tongue as it is drunk, covering all the possible taste buds. This left a rounded, lasting taste. To prove the relationship between glass shape and the taste of the wine, we moved down the selection of glasses, trying the same wine in each and with each the flavour was distinctly different. Champagne glass. For example, the smaller Pinot Noir glass, the wine took on a gentler, less bold presence. The champagne flute completely drastically changed both smell and flavour rendering them almost inexistent.


The second wine was a Pinot Noir. As a grape it is super delicate to grow. Served in the correct, lipped glass, this wine was sweet and light as the lip directed the wine directly onto the taste buds at the front of the tongue that identify sweetness. However, when I tried it in the balloon glass it becomes bitter as it reached all the other taste buds too.


20160831_205809Finally, we moved onto 2 champagnes: white and rose. Champagne refers to wine exclusively made in champagne region of France. It has long been considered a symbol of luxury and class. The effect that champagne has on a person is the biggest difference between it and flat wine. It creates feelings of jollity and happiness, which is why it is normally associated with celebrating happy times. The champagne flute was developed when champagne become a fashionable pre-theatre drink while standing in theatre foyers. Its shape reduced the possibility of spilling while standing and mingling.  When we poured our first champagne into the newly developed champagne glass, I found the flavour to be elegant and smooth with gentle bubbles. Once poured into the flute, it became harsher and bland. The flute is the reason why some people complain about champagne having too acidic a taste.  We were urged to try the champagne with a bite of Lindt Chilli chocolate that was on our table. While the chilli complimented the champagne very well, the champagne itself cleaned the mouth of all fat residue left by the chocolate. This was a surprise for me as I had always felt that champagne was a bad match with sweets. It seems that the secret is fatty sweets and champagne are an excellent pairing.

Our second champagne was a rose made from the Pinot Noir grape. As for the other wines, the conclusion that it was at its best when drunk from the correct glass, in this case the champagne glass. However, it did also retain some of its flavour properties when tasted from the Pinot Noir glass. We tried this champagne with another Lindt favourite of mine, this time dark chocolate with orange. The tangy orange helped to bring out the floral qualities of the pink champagne.

I have to admit that at the beginning of the evening I thought surely a glass is a glass: But by the end I was in awe of just how impactful a glass is on our drinking pleasure. The entire evening was educational, informative, enjoyable and inspiring. Rewarding too, as guests all got to keep the set of glasses that they used during the tasting experience. I would advise any of you out there who are fans of wine to keep a close eye on the Facebook page to book their seats at the next Riedel Masterclass. You won’t be disappointed.



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