Riedel versus Spiegelau - a glass off.

… or, in classic Rocky & Bullwinkle alternate title fashion: “I’m a total glasshole!”

After you friggin’ enablers convinced me that I need yet another set of wine glasses with a thread about go-to stemware for Napa Cabs (Poll: Your go-to glass for Napa cabs? - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers) I decided to pick up a set of 8 Riedel Vinum Cabernet / Bordeaux 21.5 ounce glasses and pit them head to head against my existing Spiegelau Hybrid Burgundy 28.5 ounce glasses.

First, the basics. Riedel offers a Buy 6, Get 8 deal. Luck would have it that I caught a sale for this pack for $121.95 and everyone knows that more is better.

Riedel Vinum:

I’ve owned the set of Spiegelaus for several months, and it’s been my most used glass. A box of one dozen glasses costs $99.95 just about everywhere. Even more is even better!

Spiegelau Hybrid:

As far as construction, the glass that the bowl is made of seems have about the same thickness. The Spiegelau’s stem is noticeably thicker, and base is just a smidge wider in diameter, although the bowl is MUCH wider than the Riedel. This results in a more balanced feel from the Riedel. That certainly doesn’t mean the Speigelau is on the verge of tipping over though. The Riedel is almost 3/4" shorter.

Next comes the fun. Over the course of a few days, I pitted them toe to toe with the same wines. The first bottle up was 2003 Warre’s LBV Port. The fruit was more intense and the secondary notes were much more prevalent on the nose with the Spiegelau, and since we all know odor influence taste there was no doubt that the Riedel lost this round convincingly.

The next night brought out a bottle of 2009 Joseph Drouhin Volnay. Frankly, I was expecting an even wider span in the results given the Spiegelau was designed with Burgundy in mind. However, the gap in performance narrowed. The Riedel still lost, but not by the margin of the first round. Both showed the nice tart dark red fruit. Again, the enhanced aromas coming from the Spiegelau seemed to bolster the flavor.

Tonight brought the final battle with a bottle of 2001 Arrowood Reserve Speciale. It’s a wine I’m very familiar with, and have had many times from different stemware. Seeing that the Riedel is made for Cabernet based wines, you’d expect it to outclass the Spiegelau… and it did… sort of. The only way to say this is that it won by losing. What I mean is the Spiegelau brought out slightly more fruit but MUCH more secondary aromas like tobacco. So much tobacco that it smelled much less pleasant than the Riedel so the Riedel won because it offered a more harmonious experience. Obviously this is going to require plenty of additional research and testing so I’ll post updates as events warrant. Or to use a favorite phrase around here, I’m going to drink more over the following weeks in the name of science.

That is a very creative thing you did!


I look forward to your updates!

Riedel owns Spiegelau …no??
I bought a boatload of Spiegelaus around 2001, love them.

I tasted a wine in the wrong glass one time. I accidentally used a Riesling glass for a Burgundy. It tasted like ass. Now I can’t stand DRC.

In Rioja one time I was tasting wine with a wine maker. We tasted wines that his grandfather had made. There wasn’t a Tempranillo glass at the time. We just had to use whatever glasses were available. That’s why the wines were all shitty.

Then Riedel created one. Never again!

I can hardly wait until they create a glass for 2007 CdP! Talk about the best miracles!

Fun and helpful post. I’d rather taste too much secondary than not enough.

Yes - although Spiegelau is in Germany (Bavaria), while Riedel is in Austria (Tyrol) … Riedel bought up Nachtmann/Spiegelau in 2004 … but the design and production is still kept separately, only distribution is combined.

Greg, please call your brother-from-another-mother DavidZ to come join you here so you two can compound the negativity. Enlighten us with your Wonder Twin Powers of Sarcasm. Thanks!

Dennis, I’d love to see you add Zalto Universal to these comparisons. I’ve done quite a few, and now my plan is to only buy Zalto when I need to replace glasses. I have the Universal and Burgundy, and I use one or the other for every wine I drink at home.

I wouldn’t mind trying that. Wanna loan me one of yours? [wink.gif]

Great test.

Dennis - it’s not negativity and I don’t know or particularly care to know David Z.

But I really really really do believe in Riedel. And I believe in Spiegelau - I’m drinking from one at this very minute. And I believe in Jenny McCarthy.

See? All positive.


Sounds like the perfect glass to use when I BYOB sushi. champagne.gif

Interesting. But it seems like you are doing more of a comparison of glass shapes than of companies.

Riedel does seminars on how the same wine tastes different in different glasses. I have done a couple of my own tests and sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t. For example, I think white Burgundy tastes just as good in a red Burgundy glass as it does in their white Burgundy glass. If you ever get the chance, you probably would enjoy this seminar. I did it on a Celebrity cruise - I think it is done on a lot of Celebrity cruises (I think they have a deal with Riedel and they have people who Riedel trains to conduct this).

I would if I didn’t have to ship it.

This evening’s guinea pig is a bottle of 2001 Lokoya Diamond Mountain - another household favorite (although there are other vintages I like more).

As with the 2001 Arrowood, the nose was much stronger with secondary aromas with the Spiegelau which wasn’t necessarily better. Tobacco and spice dominated the fruit in the 28.5 ounce Spiegelau while the overall nose was much more pleasant with the 21.5 ounce Riedel.

Agreed. I’m sure it has more to do with the shape than anything else.

I am following along enthusiastically.

I find I more often land with Reidel.

Myriad 2012 Dr Crane cab in a Reidel Bordeaux (Vinun Extreme line) stem right this minute in a tribute to you and Mike Pobega!

Thank you, Anton for the kind words. We are all the beneficiaries of having access such wines.

Those Riedel seminars have been debunked dozens of times. They tell you, over and over, what you SHOULD be tasting. And, lo and behold, you do! The seminars are much more about the power of suggestion than they are about wine appreciation.

That said, there are some differences betweens the major wine shape styles - Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne flutes, etc. Some do collect wine aromas better than others. But please do not try to tell me (as Riedel claims) that Pinots from Oregon, California, and Burgundy all need different glasses. That’s ridiculous.

My favorite all around tasting glass is a large-ish brandy snifter.

Pretty much an all-around great wine vessel!

Thanks for the acknowledgement Anton! Got a few more test subjects in the queue, including a 2003 Ponsot next.