Riedel Wine Glasses: Stemware that is Changing the Way the World Tastes Wine

Profile of Riedel Glas Austria

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One of the most influential companies in the world of wine has never produced wine at all.  In fact, Riedel Glas Austria got its start several centuries ago, refining glassware and making window panes.  Today, Riedel is widely considered to have forever changed the way the world tastes wine.

Riedel Glas Austria

Riedel Glas Austria started in 1756 as a small glassmaking company in Bohemia (today's Czech Republic).  Managed by successive generations of Riedel family members, the company grew and expanded.  By 1877, Riedel employed 1,200 people, primarily making glass beads and blanks – pieces of glass used by other businesses to make finished products.  The Riedel family's commitment to innovation manifested itself in generation after generation; for example, Josef Riedel "the Younger," who died in 1924, developed over 600 colors for glass.

As the clouds of war crept across Europe in the 1930s, Riedel began producing picture tubes for use in radar systems instead of its then-signature perfume vials and chandeliers.  As World War II ended, the Czechoslovakian government nationalized the company and dispossessed the Riedel family.  In 1956, Walter Riedel, who had survived Russian forced labor and was, with his son Claus, friends with members of Austria's Swarovski family, accepted the Swarovskis' offer to begin operations in a previously-closed factory in Kufstein, and Riedel Glas Austria was born.

In 1961, Claus Riedel created what is now the Riedel signature wine glass, a thin, plain, blown glass bowl with a slender stem.  When his son, Georg Josef, assumed management of Riedel in 1987, he greatly expanded the company, opening divisions in the U. S., U. K., Japan, Canada and Germany, aggressively marketing an expanding line of stemware.  Under Georg Josef's direction, Riedel also bought the Nachtmann Group, which included rival glassmaker Spiegelau.

Today, Riedel makes wine glasses matched to specific varietals as well as glassware intended for sommeliers, restaurants, serious wine collectors and casual wine drinkers.  The stemless "O" wine glass, designed by Maximilian Riedel, the 11th generation's rising star, marked another departure – and a popular one – for Riedel.  The latest Riedel innovations include the "Swirl" stemless glasses and a matching decanter.

The Riedel Tasting Experience

The Riedel approach to creating stemware includes developing bowl shapes to match specific wines, from Albariño to Bordeaux to Zinfandel.  According to Riedel's website, the shape of the bowl directs the wine onto a specific part of the tongue, amplifying the taste and allowing you to more fully experience the wine's aromas and flavors.  Because the bowl is matched to a specific varietal, the wine is properly aerated and the aromas are concentrated correctly.