If you’re a wine drinker, you’ve probably heard of Riedel. The famous Austrian glassmaker has a legacy going back 300 years and ten generations; for many consumers, they set the standard in luxury stemware. Their wine glasses range from the entry-level Ouverture line, which can be purchased for as little as $10 apiece, to the Sommelier series that retails for $50-60.
Other wine drinkers, including me, are skeptical about some of Riedel’s controversial theories. The most notable one is their insistence that each type of wine and/or grape variety is best enjoyed when consumed from a glass with a specific shape. They offer glasses for Chianti, Bordeaux, young Burgundy, old Burgundy, and a slew of other wine types, along with the insistence that their design provides the ultimate enjoyment for that particular wine.
This is a great theory if you’re selling stemware, but less attractive if you’re purchasing glasses at $60 per stem. If you’re prone to wine snobbery, it’s also a dangerous concept. Personally, a lifetime of wine tasting has convinced me that there’s little point in getting psychotic about the shape of the glass: anything with a large bowl, tapering gently toward the lip, will usually do just fine.
Now, Riedel has unveiled their crowning achievement: the Coca-Cola glass.
I assure you that I’m not making this up. According to a press release, Riedel was approached by the soft drink company last year “to provide consumers with a glass that delivers the optimal Coca-Cola experience.” They assembled panels of “top flavor experts,” who sampled the product from glasses of different shapes and sizes. Georg Riedel believes that the final design gives Coca-Cola a longer finish and a more intense flavor. They are already in stores, and you can buy a set of two for $29.90. If you glance at the design, it actually bears a close resemblance to the glasses traditionally used to serve Coca-Cola in diners.
Is this the ultimate achievement of the Austrian glassmaker’s art? You make the call.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press; his second book, Moonshine Nation, is forthcoming from Lyons Press in June. For more information, go to amazon.com