de Sacy Grand Soir Champagne and Waterford flute

Waterford’s pretty but …

Does the right glass really matter? You bet it does!

Because we have a such a busy holiday season and Christmas, over the years, a restful, decidedly lazy New Year’s Day has become our tradition. Often we move little more than from the couch to the fridge—to extract more smoked salmon and refresh the champagne, which have become integral to the occasion.

Every year I’m intrigued by what ‘Partner in Calories’ comes up with for Champagne. She always manages to conceal it from me until the last minute, when it mysteriously appears under the tree. This year she surprised me with a bottle of Louis de Sacy Grand Soir 2003.

I’ve already waxed poetic about this extraordinary wine that delivers much more than many of its more well known (and more expensive) competitors.

We debated which glasses to use. Should we use the impressive assertive crystal, very traditional, Waterford—that feel like they still have a mortgage on them? (I never ask!) Or, the more functional (but also graceful) Riedel Sommelier flutes that dwell in less cosseted surroundings: our kitchen cupboard.

Being the geeks we are, we decided to see how Mr. de Sacy’s superb Champagne would taste in each of the glasses, starting with the Waterford…

Riedel_Champagne_VinumThe wine showed a pretty bouquet—lots of brioche etc.—and tasted impressive on the palate, very much as I remember the first time I encountered it. But the second glass—in the Riedel flutes—was a revelation. First of all the aromas were much more intense and  nuanced. But what really struck me was the way in which the taste was transformed. It was decidedly broader on the palate and the flavours seemed much more layered.

I’m not a glass expert by any means. But I do recall at least a couple of Riedel tastings in which we talked about the trajectory. That is: the way the rim can pitch the liquid onto your tongue. While not as fancy looking, the Riedel is much thinner crystal and its fine rim feels far  more sensual on your lips. Maybe we were also influenced by that. But overall, there was no doubt in our mind in which glass the wine tasted better.

I’m a big believer in Riedel, although I don’t necessarily need a glass for each variety, region of origin or blend. However, I do think for white wine having at least a decent Riesling or Chardonnay glass is crucial—we use the Overture white wine glass. As is a good Bordeaux glass that can also work for Rhone and Shiraz. And, no question, a dedicated Pinot glass such as the Riedel Vinum does make a huge difference.

Now I’ll have to add Champagne to that list—be it Champagne, Cava, sparkling BC or whatever. I’m a Riedel convert. Again.