Wine as a product varies greatly in quality and cost. Glassware is no different and the Riedel Wine Glass Company is the world’s most famous glassware company, producing 55 million glasses a year.
Wine glasses are a certain shape for a reason. Even scientists attest to this. The shape of the glass affects how aromas and flavours develop and rise from your wine. This in turn impacts on taste and your experience. As such, we should drink from the proper glassware.
However, The Riedel Wine Glass Company go further than the traditional glassware. Wine tastes and smells vary greatly, from grape to grape. Due to this, the glassware you pour a Pinot Noir into, shouldn’t be the same style of glass that holds a Syrah. Riedel glassware is created for specific grape varieties so you get the best experience possible.
In this article we will take a closer look at the Riedel Wine Glass Company and delve into their most popular wine glasses and what makes them loved by millions of wine lovers around the world.
A Brief History of the Riedel Wine Glass Company
The Riedel Wine Glass Company is a family-owned company which began in the 17th century. Johann Christoph Riedel began trading glassware throughout Europe. Subsequent generations focused on functional glassworks. They then progressed onto more ornate pieces – such as jewellery. By the middle of the 20th century, they had established themselves as global leaders in glasswork. Current CEO and President Maximilian J. Riedel is the 11th generation owner of the Austrian company.
Over time, the companies focus changed. In the 1960’s 9th generation Claus J. Riedel began producing plain, hand-blown, long-stemmed wine glasses. This design departed from traditional coloured and cut glasses. This Riedel glassware range was known as the ‘Sommeliers’. It was the first stemware to be created with wine as its sole focus.
Since then Riedel has never looked back. To this day Riedel Glassware place a greater emphasis on wine-related products than any other glassware range in their portfolio. Their commitment to working with winemakers and the hospitality sector is well recognised. It’s easy to see why the wine glassware they produce is so sought after. Riedel wine glasses continue to win awards from wine-enthusiasts, designers and art museums around the world.
A full overview of Riedel Glassware’s 350 year journey is available here.
Modern Day Crystal Glassware – Lead Free & Hand-blown Glass
The Riedel Wine Glass Company specialises in crystal glassware. Let’s look at the differences between crystalware and glassware, as well as some key phrases to look out for when choosing wine glasses.
Lead Free Glasses vs Glassware Containing Lead
Glassware is made from a combination of sand, limestone and ash melted together at extremely high temperature. This molten liquid then cools to create what we know as glass. However, Crystalware is different. Crystalware was invented as ‘Lead Crystal‘, by adding lead oxides to glass. Through extensive research, manufacturers found that by adding lead oxides to glass, the appearance and durability of the glass is improved.
Despite this, there have been numerous health concerns raised over using lead in glassware. Wine drinkers should not be too concerned though a the wine is not going to be in Lead Crystal wine glasses long enough for it to leach lead from it. However, lead leaching may have adverse effects with regards to the long-term storage of fortified wine.
Today Lead Crystal glassware is still available although companies tend to use less lead. Around 24% lead is the current standard. In response to the health concerns over glassware containing lead, lead free crystal was developed. Manufacturers were able to create a similar product without adding potentially harmful chemicals containing lead.
Machine vs Hand-Blown Wine Glassware
As for techniques in glass-making, glass-blowing is a key part of the process. Glass-blowing is the manipulation of molten glass. This can be carried out by a machine, or done by hand.
Hand-blowing is when the blowing is carried out by a person. When producing hand-blown glass, the rate at which glassware can be produced is lower compared to machine blown. The primary difference between hand-blown wine glasses and machine blown wine glasses is that the hand blown wine glasses will be thinner and a more finessed product. This is due to the human touch and precision of a master glass-blower.
Machine-blown glass products have been mechanised and as a result the production rate greatly increases. However, by doing so you lose a degree of finesse and quality in the finished glassware product. Many glass producers in the modern-day opt for a combination of both machine and hand-blown glass.
All glasses produced by the Riedel Wine Glass Company are made from lead-free crystal. However, different ranges of wine glassware and decanters can be either hand-blown or machine-blown. How the range has been produced is identified by the trademark Riedel logo which is diamond cut into the base of the wine glass. This will also be stated on the glassware packaging.
Top Selling Riedel Wine Glass Products
The Riedel Wine Glass Company have a wide range of products, with decanters and glasses for all types of wine. Like all brands, there are some Riedel products which have particularly distinguished themselves.
To get a taste of where it all began, you may want to try the ‘Sommeliers’ range. This is where wine glasses were first designed with wine front of mind. They are thin-blown, lead-free crystal wine glasses. These highly specialised glasses are sold for a wide variety of grapes. Truly, an iconic design still present today and a piece of Riedel history for your glass of wine.
However, not all Riedel Wine Company glasses are grape specific. The Riedel Wine Company have ranges designed to suit all wine-related needs. The award-winning ‘O Wine Tumbler’ is an example of this. It is an innovative approach to a casual wine glass. O Wine Tumblers are stemless, machine-made, crystal glasses which are a great option for all occasions. If you want to try the Riedel Wine Company brand, but want something practical, then these glasses make a great gift or additional to your home.
Examples of the Riedel Wine Company Happy O Range are available here:
Riedel’s Recommend Wine Glass Cleaning Techniques
If all this has piqued your interest, you may want to get what the Riedel Wine Company has to offer. If you are planning on buying some wine glasses, there is one more thing to cover – cleaning them. While cleaning isn’t glamorous, it requires does require consideration.
The Riedel Wine Company certifies all its products as dishwasher safe. It still recommends using good quality dishwasher tablets and taking care when stacking. For hand-washing your wine glass, cup the bowl of the glass. Then, wash using warm water and 15ml of liquid soap.
Finally, when drying use a microfiber polishing cloth. Hold the bowl and polish the glass carefully and lightly inside and out. Once you’ve done this hold and polish the base of the glass.
Whether hand-washing or drying – avoid holding the bowl and the stem at the same time. This can increase the likelihood of snapping the glass. For a comprehensive overview of wine glass cleaning techniques please read here.
Main Competitors to Riedel
The Riedel Wine Company is a global leader. However, there are other options. If you’re looking shop around and look at alternatives, you may want to try the wine glass brands referenced below.
There is clearly something in the water, (or the sand), in Austria. The Riedel Wine Company is not alone. Austrian based Zalto is another producer of crystalware. Although, they are a smaller company than the Riedel Wine Company, with fewer options. Zalto provides both Bordeaux and Burgundy red wine glasses, as well as a universal white wine option. They also provide a selection of other wine glass choices from sparkling and sweet wine.
Schott Zwiesel is also worth considering. Based in the Spa Town of Zwiesel in Germany, they have been producing crystalware since 1872. Schott Zwiesel is also close to the hospitality industry, supplying to leading restaurateurs and sommeliers. Similarly to Zalto, they provide glasses for Burgundy and Bordeaux grape varieties. As well as generic options for other reds, white and sparkling wine.
Glassware is a worthwhile investment and the Riedel Wine Company is one of the best options available. If you’re looking to expand your appreciation of the wine you’re drinking, then give them a try!
The Riedel Wine Company has a long history, with a clear commitment to quality. Their long-list of awards shows that you’re getting a good product.
With 317 dealers in 5 continents, the Riedel Wine Company provide high quality crystalware across the globe. It is worth looking for the Riedel brand the next time you’re out.
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