Riedel Wine Glasses:
All Hype or the Real Thing?

riedel wine glasses

Even if you aren't a wine snob you may have heard of Riedel wine glasses by now as they have become almost ubiquitous. You may have even heard people say that they are the best wine tasting glasses for wine tastings or general wine service. So is it true? Are Riedel glasses really worth all the hype and widespread attention they have garnered over the last couple decades? Or are they overpriced crystal to show off with but don't really bring much to the tasting of wine?

Obviously there is no 100% right answer to these questions because opinions and tastes will vary. However, at their higher end, there is no questioning that the best Riedel wine glasses are truly excellent wine glasses. Read on to find out more about why.

One thing to make clear is that Riedel makes many different wine glasses and decanters. Whether you've experienced it for yourself yet or not, the size, shape, and construction of wine glasses do affect how you experience the wine, both in its aroma and flavor profile and mouthfeel. And since all wines are not the same in terms of their attributes, style and flavor profiles, there is no one perfect wine glass which will show off every style of wine equally. Some wines deserve a larger bowl to show off their aroma, others seem to do better in a smaller glass, some benefit from a glass lip that flares out a bit while others show better with a wine glass lip that curves in a bit, or a lot.

Riedel Collections

First of all, Riedel makes wine glasses in a number of different lines or collections that vary in their construction and overall quality. While the Sommeliers series is arguably their most famous and most expensive (every glass is hand blown by expert glass workers), they make many different levels and types of glassware lines. These Sommeliers glasses can set you back up to $150 per stem! Although not everyone will agree on their favorite wine tasting glasses, these various styles of glass are truly beautiful and practically perfectly constructed. However, obviously most of us can't spend that much money on wine glasses, especially for every day drinking. Other lines they offer are machine made and therefore less expensive, yet still excellent glasses. The Vinum series is their classic machine-made alternative but they now have many other lines that vary in style and price. The Ouverture line is a nice lower priced but still attractive glass. You can even find specific lines made for companies like Target, which have very fairly priced machine-made Riedel Wine Glasses. While they may not be as beautiful and fine as the top levels, they are certainly solid and respectable glasses for general tasting and drinking.

Styles of Riedel Wine Glasses

In addition to these different collections, within each line Riedel produces several different styles of glass, that vary in their size and shape to accentuate particular attributes and characteristics of various styles of wine. For example, Bordeaux glasses tend to be large but kinda tulip shaped, curving gently in toward the lip in an overall oval-ish shape while Burgundy glasses have a wider, almost brandy snifter-like bowl to accentuate their aromatic nature (in the Sommeliers series the glass lip also flares out slightly). In fact, for their top lines, they practically have a different wine glass for every major region or style of wine. While true wine aficionados who can afford it may have a big collection of different styles to serve just about any wine appropriately, most of us make do with just a couple or a few different styles, especially for everyday drinking. For example, having a set of general, all purpose red wine glasses and a set of all purpose white wine glasses (which tend to be slightly smaller) is enough. Riedel can certainly supply that in a range of quality/price levels.

So in summary, Riedel does make excellent wine tasting glasses that vary in quality and construction, and therefore also price. At any level, you can find several excellent options that will serve you well for both wine tasting and general wine service. The different styles do help to accentuate the unique characteristics of each style or type of wine, although the degree to which they do this depends on the glass, the wine and your own opinion. Are the glasses overhyped and overpriced? Well the upper level glasses, like the Sommeliers series is certainly hyped up and very expensive, but they are indeed beautiful glasses that are constructed well. While you will find just as many wine enthusiasts that swear by them as their go-to glasses for serving fine wine, you'll also find others who prefer other producers and styles of glass.

Disclaimer: The Wine Tastings Guide does not have any relationship with Riedel, monetarily or otherwise, and does not receive anything to review or promote their products. The opinions expressed here are our own.

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