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Riedel research reveals the ‘perfect’ glass shape for English sparkling wines

From the common flute, all-rounder glasses to specialised Champagne glasses, which one best suits English sparkling wines? Riedel is in search of an answer with English producers.

Out of 12 different glass shapes, including specialised Champagne glasses and the regular flute, Riedel’s Veloce Riesling glass was voted as the most preferred glass by English producers from three regions for their sparkling wines, announced the Austrian glassware manufacturer.

In search of the best English sparkling glass

Last week, 25 wine producers from three of the UK’s primary sparkling wine-producing regions were invited to attend three Riedel workshops for comparative tastings of 12 different glass shapes (see below) from the glassmaker’s existing product range.

  • Riedel Stemless Wings Riesling Glass
  • Riedel Veritas Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo/Rosé Champagne Glass
  • Riedel Performance Riesling Glass
  • Riedel Vinum Vintage Champagne Glass
  • Riedel Performance Pinot Noir Glass
  • Riedel Winewings Champagne Wine Glass
  • Riedel Veloce Riesling Glass
  • Riedel Performance Champagne Glass
  • Riedel Wine Friendly Red Wine Glass
  • Riedel Veloce Champagne Wine Glass
  • Riedel Veritas Champagne Wine Glass
  • Champagne flute (the ‘Joker’ glass)

The 12-strong lineup was hand-picked by Riedel based on the results of similar workshops held with international sparkling producers, including those from famed Champagne houses and Tasmania, explained Maximilian J Riedel, 11th-generation CEO and president of the family-owned glassware manufacturer, who conducted all three English sparkling workshops in Hampshire, Kent and Sussex.

Also read: Riedel – An exclusive look behind the scenes

During four rounds of tasting at each workshop, representatives of 25 English wineries and trade experts voted for their favoured glass shapes that best presented their local sparklers.

The tasting workshop: How did it work?

Each workshop began with all 12 glass shapes (product names not given) at the first round of tasting. During the first three rounds, participants were to vote for their preferred glasses to keep, leaving out their three least favourite glasses. They could only choose one favourite glass in the last round. The final winner was the glass shape that had the highest number of total votes throughout all four rounds.

At the Hampshire workshop, hosted at Exton Park Vineyard, the participating producers were served a total of four sparkling wines sourced locally, chosen without any prior criteria given by Riedel.

‘(The winner) has to work for all of the styles,’ explained Maximilian.

The Hampshire workshop wine list

Round 1: Exton Park, RB32 NV
Round 2: Louis Pommery England NV
Round 3: The Grange, Classic NV
Round 4: Hattingley Valley, Classic Reserve NV

The Stemless Wings Riesling Glass (see above, left), the Vinum Vintage Champagne Glass (middle) and the Champagne flute (right). Credit: Riedel

During the first round, participants first ruled out the Stemless Wings Riesling Glass (see above), the Vinum Vintage Champagne Glass and the common Champagne flute.

The Performance Champagne Glass (left), the Wine Friendly Red Wine Glass (middle) and the Veloce Champagne Wine Glass (right). Credit: Riedel

The Performance Champagne Glass, the Wine Friendly Red Wine Glass and the Veloce Champagne Wine Glass were voted out in the second round.

The Veritas Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo/Rosé Champagne Glass (left), the Performance Pinot Noir Glass (middle) and the Performance Riesling Glass (right). Credit: Riedel

By a close vote after the third round, tasters dismissed the Veritas Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo/Rosé Champagne Glass, the Performance Pinot Noir Glass and the Performance Riesling Glass.

Maximilian admitted that the early exit of Veritas Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo/Rosé Champagne Glass was a surprise as it was his glass of choice for English sparkling rosés. The Performance Riesling Glass, on the other hand, attracted a considerable number of votes until this round.

The results

The Winewings Champagne Wine Glass (left), the Veloce Riesling Glass (middle) and the Veritas Champagne Wine Glass (right). Credit: Riedel

The last round is a choice among three glasses; the Winewings Champagne Wine Glass, the Veloce Riesling Glass and the Veritas Champagne Wine Glass.

More participants opted for the Winewings Champagne Wine Glass for the linear, mineral Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve NV. The glass features a flat bottom and a waved inwards-inclined rim.

However, with the most total votes, Riedel’s Veloce Riesling Glass came out as the final winner from the Hampshire workshop.

The same glass shape also merited the most votes from producers in Kent and Sussex, announced Riedel, making it the universal winner of the latest research for English sparkling wine glass.

‘My favourite glass shape (from this tasting) was the Veloce Riesling Glass when tasting Exton Park Brut,’ said Corinne Seely, wine director of Exton Park, where the Hampshire workshop was held.

‘The bubbles were very fine, the body complete with that recognisable saltiness and the glass revealed the flavours beautifully leaving a fantastic roundness at the end of the mouth.’

Maximilian agreed that producers had chosen a glass shape that ‘shows the fruit, the freshness, and the complexity of these great (English) wines at their very best’.

This diamond-shaped glass comes from Riedel’s state-of-the-art, machine-made Veloce series which is ‘as fine and as light and as balanced as a hand-made glass’, as the glassware producer put it.

The Riesling glass of the series is designed to balance ‘the high acidity and residual sugar of fruit-forward white wines’, as well as ‘the fresh characters and high mineral components, emphasising fruit aromas’, according to Riedel’s product description.

The runner-up at the Hampshire workshop by total votes was the Veritas Champagne Wine Glass. The Performance Riesling Glass and again the Veritas Champagne Wine Glass were the second choices for producers in Kent and Sussex.

The research goes on

This isn’t Riedel’s first attempt to identify the best glass shape for English sparkling wines. In September 2011, the 10th-generation owner Georg Riedel, father of Maximilian, hosted a tasting workshop at the Hush Heath Estate (producer of Balfour Rosé). The winning glass shape then was the Sommelier Vintage Champagne Glass.

In a previous interview with Decanter, Maximilian Riedel stated his determination to make the ‘one-dimensional’ Champagne flute obsolete as the popular glass for fizz prevents drinkers from appreciating the full range of aromas and taste profiles.

‘(The English sparkling wine workshop) is something we have wanted to work on ever since and ten years later, in November 2021, we started the conversation again,’ explained the glass maker. ‘Initially, it was just with Kent but by the end of 2022 Hampshire and Sussex were also on board, along with WineGB.’

Maximilian told decanter.com that he was ‘proud to support English sparkling wines with a specific Riedel glass’.

“I have longed admired English sparkling wines since I made my first vineyard visits here almost ten years ago. In that time, I have seen the industry grow and the wine develop to a truly internationally high standard so that it is amongst the very best sparkling wines in the world.’

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