Thursday, June 18, 2009

Drink Wine Today ... but use the right glass!

Just a follow up on my last post. I have been testing the tasting on the right day theory. I am happy to report I tasted 10 Sauvignon Blancs with my panel on June 15th, a leaf day, without any ill effects. I really tempted the lunar crowd last night, a root day of all things. Tasted a high end Super Tuscan and same thing, nothing but praise for the wine. Now I can relax and return to my normal drinking pattern. That is, enjoy my wines whenever and wherever the occasion arises.
I am NOT a wine snob, never have been and never will. Each wine deserves a chance to tell its story. But I have to tell you that I am a bit of a wine glass snob. I often bring my own glass when attending trade tastings. After all when tasting a series of wines, should you not give the wines a chance to show off their best? The rolled rim restaurant style of glass at these tastings are just not very helpful.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Riedel Glass tasting, sponsored by the largest wine shop in Victoria, Everything Wine. The Riedel representative introduced us to the latest in the Riedel series of glasses, the Vitis.
Before I sold my wine shop in Victoria, The Wine Barrel, I became a firm believer in what the right glass can do to enhance the wine drinking experience. While I think the Vitis series are beautiful and elegant and I now have a set of them, I do not think that they have an advantage over the Vinum Extreme series. Recently I shared a 1989 Opus 1 with a good friend and I chose the Extreme Cabernet glass rather than the Vitis Cabernet glass. The Vinum Extreme is, I feel, better suited to a big bold wine like the Opus 1. It still makes me drool when I think of this tasting.
Now to get to the point of this post. Some years ago, Riedel introduced an Icewine glass. The sales representative at that time, tried to convince me that since British Columbia makes some of the finest Icewines made anywhere, I should be selling these glasses. I was of the opinion that this new glass was just not the right one for our BC Icewines. I felt that they may be very suited for Ontario Icewines and they were in fact created using Ontario Icewines but BC Icewines are different. He reported this to Riedel in Austria and that started a challenge. In other words, put your money where your mouth is.
Well, OK then . I contacted a number of BC Icewine producers to get their opinions on the difference between BC and Ontario Icewines. As well I spoke to John Schreiner, the author of Icewine -The Complete Story and got his take on it and a number of other in the know individuals. Next I created an "Icewine Glass Evaluation Chart".
Click on it to get the enlarged version.
Next I collected 3 BC Icewines and 1Ontario Icewine and put a panel of 6 local wine experts together (OK, 5, I was taster #6), including bringing John Schreiner over from Vancouver. John, in my opinion is the world's number 1 expert on Icewines. I won't go into details but the long and the short of it was that my theory about the Riedel Icewine glass was proven correct when 5 out of the 6 panelists agreed that indeed the Riedel Icewine glass was the best for the Ontario Icewine but not as suited to the BC Icewines we tasted.
Since Riedel had been interested in my project, I forwarded them all the information. Guess what? If I would order 50,000 glasses they would create a glass according to my specifications for a BC Icewine. was fun!
When I visited Tuscany with my friend Sanjoy from California we had the pleasure of tasting the wines made by Alessandro Dondi, the winemaker at Castello di Bolgheri. I believe it to be 'the' super, Super Tuscan. I brought it back with me and it looks like we finally will have a distributor to bring it into BC. I shared part of the Castello di Bolgheri this week with some local wine experts and quickly added nitrogen preserve to the bottle. Their opininion was that it was outstanding. Elegant was one of the descriptors.Tonight I am sharing the rest of this wine with a wine loving lady friend. I guess I will use the 'elegant' Vitis Cabernet glass for this get together. Just done right BBQ'd steak and a great wine and great company.
Yes, I believe the right glass is essential to the ultimate enjoyment of a great wine.