Riedel is famous for designing glasses that are considered perfect for enhancing the aromas and flavors of a particular wine — an Oregon pinot noir, white burgundy, red bordeaux, champagne.
Now, the Argentine wine producer Graffigna has bragging rights to its own malbec wine glass, which it can ship out to reviewers along with a bottle of its wine to taste in it.
The process is simple — the height, curvature, and lip of a fine wine glass have been proven to influence how a wine will taste. So a glass that might be perfect for showing off a cabernet sauvignon won’t do justice to a riesling. Riedel’s business and olfactory genius has been to sit down with the people who make a particular kind of wine and determine through workshops which wine-glass shape best fits that wine.
Graffigna and Riedel partnered to create the Graffigna malbec glass, although the glass will, of course, be marketed to show off any Argentine malbec.
So how does the wine taste in a comparative road test. I poured the 2011 Graffigna "Centario" San Juan malbec reserve into two glasses — one the Riedel glass, and the other the old-fashioned, small bowl of the standard INAO glass that restaurants used in your father’s era and which some still do.
The Riedel — tall and narrow with a somewhat-closed rim similar to a white wine glass — was obviously designed to gather elusive malbec aromas and fruitiness. And it does just that. In it, the malbec has good fruitiness of cherries and tart raspberries with a somewhat-dark, crisp, lean finish with dusty tannins.
The INAO glass pretty much reflected the finish of the Riedel but not the aromas and fruity flavors. Just for fun, I dumped the wine into a standard, broad-bowled cabernet glass, and, again, the wine did not have the aromas and fruit it did in the Riedel glass.
Now, Riedel just has to convince the other competitive malbec-producing regions that need to bring their own glasses to the table.