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Feb 20, 2010 03:20 AM

Different types of Riedel Glasses

I really don't know anything about wine, but I was thinking about buying some nice glasses for my dad. I know Reidel is pretty famous for pushing all those different types of glasses for each specific type of wine.

But, now, it seems Reidel is also being pretty aggressive about coming up with all these different types of wine lines for each wine type- Vinium, Vinium XL, Vinium Extreme, Vitis, etc...

What's the difference?

I think I read somewhere that one line is for Old World WIne while another line is for New World Wine, but there are so many more lines than that.

Also, if its true, that certain lines are for old world vs new world, then doesn't mean that the consumer should avoid certain lines because some grape varieties are better from the old world or new world. For example, even though Reisling is grown in the new world as well, aren't the best Reislings still grown in Germany? And, thus you'd want to buy the best Riedel line that would suit Old World wines?

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  1. Get a nice tulip shape glass (if going with riedel, the Vinum looks nice), it will be good enough for 99% of wines (except maybe for sparklers), for all the worlds out there, new, old, used, recycled, or refurbished.


    1. Reidel Zinfandel is probably the best all-purpose glass. For wines made from pinot noir, nebbiolo and grenache, I like glasses with bigger bowls to emphasize the aromas. Smaller glasses are nice for white wines. Flutes are best for sparkling wine.
      When I got into wine I read in Parker's book the importance of having the right wine glasses to match the wines. So I bought several different types. And for me they don't make a difference, except for the aromas of fragrant wines. People whose judgment I respect say they find the glasses do make a difference. I dunno. But I think you're safe with the Riedel.
      Cost Plus has some nice inexpensive glasses that I've purchased on sale and with a coupon to make the prices really low.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        not to hijack the thread, but i've found some pretty good wine bargains at cost plus too.

        1. re: SteveTimko

          I have no idea if it's true, but someone told me that the wine glasses at Cost Plus are manufactured by Riedel or another German/Austrian company. Can't quite remember, but they're supposed to be a great bargain.

        2. OK, look: Riedel glasses are very nice. So, too, are Schott Zwiesel, Spiegelau, and many more . . .

          I have had the same wines served to me, blind, three times in different Riedel glasses. I don't know why the wines *tasted* different, but they did. C'est la vie.

          As far as Riedel's various lines of glassware, Riedel Vinum glasses are -- IMHO -- the way to go. All the others are either far too fragile, or they are just too gimicky. On the other hand, I prefer Spiegelau -- they are a bit more durable, yet still feel nice. As the Riedels we got as wedding presents break, I am replacing them with Spiegelau glasses from the Authentis line.

          Now, keep in mind I spent my career in the wine trade, so I have way too many different types of wine glasses . . . but the ones I use most are two different ones for reds (Burgundy and Syrah), and two different ones for white (Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay), and, of course, Champagne . . .

          Just my 2ยข. YMMV. And for whatever it's worth, I mostly drink Old World wines. Bottom line: don't overthink this.


          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            Reidel bought Spiegelau. There were Spiegelau glasses being blown out for next to nothing at Cost Plus. Reidel says they're going to keep the Spiegelau line going with no changes.

          2. Some of the differences are whether they're hand blown or not. The Vinium is not but, it's a nice fine glass that excentuates the bouquet of the wine at a reasonable price. No matter what your father prefers (red/white), get the appropriate glass for the wine.

            6 Replies
            1. re: cstr

              The Riedel Sommelier series is 100% hand-blown; I've always hated these glasses -- I own some, but never use them -- look at them too hard and they break! The Vinum is +24% lead crystal, machine-made and still break fairly easier, but are much more sturdy than the Sommerlier. The Overture series is machine-made, lead-free, more sturdy than Vinum glasses, and less expensive. Downside: limited shapes.

              1. re: zin1953

                I've gotta disagree about the Sommelier Series. The Burgundy and Bordeaux Sommelier Series are my go to glass when we go to offlines, and we've yet to break one <knock on wood>. I throw them in the Rieedel carry bag, and we hop the train out of Princeton to NYC and they make the trip no problem. I wash these by hand like all of our glasses, and this is when I usually break glasses, but maybe I am just more careful with these.

                We also use the Sommelier Series rose glasses quite a bit, and was lucky enough to find them at Williams-Sonoma being blown out for under $10. Heck of a great deal in my opinion, and we have yet to break any of these.

                Definitely sturdier glasses out there than the Sommelier Series, but there is something so elegant about these glasses, and I love them. -mJ

                1. re: njfoodies

                  I have to agree about the Sommelier Series. I have four different stems (chardonnay, burgundy Grand Cru, bordeax Grand Cru, single malt), have used them for several years now and haven't broken one yet (hopping on one foot, crossing fingers, waving four leaf clover). I use them often and wash them all periodically since they are on display.

                  If you *really* enjoy certain wines, I think it's nice to have the most appropriate glass for the wine. Find out what wines your dad enjoys the most and pick up the corresponding Sommelier glass (or a pair). He'll find nuances in the wine he didn't experience before.

                  1. re: Dee S

                    Following this advice, I checked out my dad's bar- he's got a variety of different wines but mostly they fall into three categories- cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and coganc.

                    I guess I'd want to give him something versatlie enough for all that stray bottle of chianti, ice wine, reisling, chardonnay, sake, etc..

                    There's no Sommelier for a Cognac. In fact, only Vinum line has glassware for Cognac. I'm kind of curious why Riedel, after coming out with so many different lines for different wines, would only have Vinum available for Cognac.

                    Another interesting thing on Riedel's website is that you can select the type of wine, and they will match the glassware that best matches it. But, when you type in Cabarnet Sauvignon, it brings up the Vinum line without bringing up VInum XL or Vitis or Vinum Extreme. I guess this means that for Cabarnet Sauvignon, one should stick only to Riedel's VInum or Sommelier line.

                    1. re: hobbess

                      Their Vinum line is the most popular and sturdy, thus has more styles (cognac) to offer, which IMO, are excellent cognac glasses. if you select 'burgandy' you'll most likely get the Vinum line as well. Since your dad's stash of wine is more 'red', I'd go with the Vinum burgandy bowl and maybe a couple of cognac glasses, you'll make his day a hit!

                      1. re: cstr

                        If Riedel is making the argument about the importance of picking the right shape for the right wine, then I'm kind of confused about the two divergent shapes Riedel uses for Cognac. Those two shapes seem so different. Which one is the better choice, the Vinum Cognac Hennesy glass or the Vinum Cognac Brandy glass?

                        Also, I'm kind of confused about the suggestion for Vinum Burgundy glass. Obviously, wine isn't in my wheelhouse but when I googled up Burgundy wine, my impression from the wikipedia page was that that region was mostly pinot noir for red wine.

            2. Lead crystal helps, although it will definitely require hand-washing:

              "There's been a lot of misinformation propagated in the world about washing wine glasses, and indeed about the glasses themselves. For example, the idea has been spread that lead crystal glasses and all high quality glass is more porous than ordinary glass. This is completely false. Glass is an amorphous* substance, and has no pores whatsoever.

              What crystal glass has are tiny sharp microscopic peaks or bumps on the unpolished surfaces of the glass. These sharp little peaks are responsible for wine tasting better in any crystal, whether specially designed like Riedel and Spiegelau or just a decent traditional shape. The peaks create a larger rougher surface area which helps aerate the wine when it's poured and also when it's swirled. As the wine sloshes over the these peaks it not only adds a bit of air but also releases some of the more volatile compounds in the wine, many of which contribute to the 'nose' and flavor, thus creating a richer tasting experience.

              These 'peaks' also tend to hold the residues of wine, which leads to the well known phenomenon of staining when red wine is left in lead crystal overnight before being washed. The glasses will eventually develop a pink blush. Common dishwashing detergents are unable to remove this staining, and indeed almost universally create a cloudy appearance over time. This is a result of the leaching of silica from the glass. This free silica forms a deposit on the surface of the glass, which we perceive as clouding, and which often causes ineradicable pitting. Our unique formula, in addition to not changing the flavors of your favorite wines, won't etch, pit, nor cloud your glasses, nor leach any lead from your expensive crystal.

              * unstructured, fluid; not crystalline: without a crystalline structure. Curiously lead, a metal with a crystalline structure like all metals, loses its distinctive crystalline structure when mixed with silica etc. to form glass. In other words, when it becomes part of the glass it no longer exhibits the properties it had as a pure metal, but rather subordinates itself to the mega structure of the new material, leaded crystal glass. Glass is a fluid if one remembers from high school physics, chemistry/geology, which like all glass is a very slow moving fluid. Over centuries glass windows, for example, will become thicker at the bottom as the fluid glass runs ever so slowly down. One can only wonder what ones crystal wine glasses will look like after several hundred years!"


              4 Replies
              1. re: RicRios

                Have you used this stuff? If so, does it work?

                1. re: penthouse pup

                  Meaning: lead crystal? Absolutely! For many years now.
                  My favorite brand is Baccarat.
                  Curiously, I never experienced "fragility" as a problem here. As I said before, maintenance is the big minus. Hand wash required, immediately followed by drying with a linen cloth. A Baccarat decanter is a major inconvenience, since it gathers wine colored residues on the walls. To clean those I use Alcotabs. After a few days, the vinous internal film just peels off by itself.

                  1. re: RicRios

                    I meant did you use the glass cleaning product on the website which you quoted...I too use Alcotabs for decanters.

                    1. re: penthouse pup

                      I purchased their fragrance free soap once.
                      It works, but for me it was basically a waste: any regular (mild) dish detergent will do, since odor goes away in a matter of hours.
                      It might prove useful, I guess, if you need to wash & reuse immediately.