Stem Throwdown - Zalto Uni v GGG v Riedel Vinum BDX

This board has introduced me to quite a few fun wine treats over the years. I’ve been seeing so much about Zalto and GGG and have unfortunately broken a few of my Riedel Vinum Bdx stems. We’re doing a kitchen reno, and I figured I might add some new stems to the budget so we have a nice tidy set of 8 or so. Naturally, board nice guy, berserkerfest champ, and fellow zerker Chris Freemott got my business. His site can be found here.

I purchased a Zalto Universal and a Gabriel Glas Gold to go up against my Riedel Vinum Bordeaux. They arrived perfectly packed in one week.

First, the GGG is light as a feather. It’s light like no wine glass I’ve ever held. The Zalto is also thin stemmed and light, but not to the same degree. The Riedel is, by comparison, a heavy, chunky beast.

GGG will “perform” the best. Relatively wide base, tapered nose, moderate depth should result in concentrated aromatics combined with good aeration and exposure.

I popped a 2007 Guado al Tasso and poured about three ounces into each glass. I left them there for a while, occasionally swirling them around and letting the wine open up. I then smelled and tasted each to see if the wine was more expressive in any one glass. I then had my 8 year old swirl and sniff each one and tell me which one “smelled the most.” My wife refused to play, fearing a perceived wrong answer the brutal shaming I might bestow upon her (which wouldn’t have happened). I then mentally recorded my findings. After an hour, repeat. After another half hour, just swirl sniff and drink about a 2 oz dram in each.

Concerns and Biases:
The Riedel is what I’m used to. It’s been in my house, washed in our soap, and what I’ve used for the past decade. I am concerned that how I study and drink wine is tied directly to this glass, and so any alternative will seem an anomaly. While I disclaim a bias against this stem, I also openly prefer it for nearly all wines over the vinum syrah, white, champagne, oeverture, somm series bdx, and american pinot stems that I either also own or have owned. In other words, it’s already beat out all prior competitors for me. I also did not run the new stems through the dishwasher and did not use soap during a quick rinse. As a result, they may carry a little packing paper smell, and that’s bad.

The results were interesting. I found that the Riedel Vinum BDX allowed more sweet fruit notes to come out early, while the big oak profile of the Guado al Tasso was more accentuated in the GGG and the Zalto Uni. With time, I still felt like the Riedel presented the most open nose. Might be that the slightly wider top space simply allowed my large nose in better, or allowed more exposure, evaporation, and phenolic release. My 8 year old noted, unprompted, that he thought the one in “the round glass” (the Riedel) “had the most smell.”

Damn it to hell was my thought. I think the GGG is such a whip ass looking and feeling glass I desperately hoped it would blow me away in the performance category.

I did not find a particularly noticeable difference between the Zalto and the GGG. If anything I think you get a little better swirling action from the GGG, though the Zalto Uni is more aesthetically pleasing, both modern and graceful. I eventually drank about 2/3 of a glass with the GGG and decided I like the hell out of it anyway and that once the Guado opened up, it was delivering beautiful notes on the nose and palate.

2007 Guado Al Tasso Nose is booming with a big leading oak note followed by sweet currant and blackberry. Underneath that is a slight herbal note like bay leaf, and a hint of BBQ spice. With time the oak subsides and on the palate, the beautiful sweet black fruit comes across with just a hint of poultry seasoning, vanilla, and bbq. It’s got just a hint of acidity to keep it fresh enough. Solid tannins for another decade plus. This is a really lovely, modern super Tuscan, and the cabernet is clearly the star of the show. 93

Personally I like GGG for everything, but I don’t drink a lot of big cabs, particularly Napa cabs. So the one comment that I saw in the most recent “recommend a wine glass” thread was that big Napa cabs do better in Riedel or some of the larger Zaltos. I can’t really say. I’m very happy with BDX in the GGG, and Northern Rhone syrah, and those are almost certainly the two “biggest” styles of wine I regularly drink.

So, maybe test out some other wines and grapes and let us know how they each perform. I’ll warn you though, if you keep drinking out of the GGG everything else will start to feel like it’s ceramic in comparison. Glasses that once seemed very light now seem extremely heavy to me.

I have had the same experience, my wife likes a different glass and it feels like a ton of bricks when I grab the glass. The GGG is so light !!