linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
Riedel - clink
Also of interest...

Riedel - clink

by Anthony Zumpano
May 5, 2008

Riedel, an Austrian wine glass company, wants wine drinkers to appreciate the containers that they drink from as much as they appreciate the wine itself.

The Riedel family has been in the glassmaking business for more than 300 years. The Riedel website even claims that the method for handcrafting the stem and base of the glasses was developed “at the time of Christ's birth.” Riedel also survived a number of Old Testament-like struggles, including the murder of its patriarch, several wars, rampaging Prussians, the 1929 stock market collapse, expulsion from its homeland, and imprisonment in a Siberian work camp, before Claus Riedel, of the family's ninth generation, began tinkering with stemware designs while working for his father at their relocated Austrian facility.

Long before the US$ 3 cup of coffee and the $200 pair of sneakers, Riedel sold a premium-priced product whose purpose, arguably, could be served just as well by a much cheaper item. (You could even consume wine without spending a dime on stemware if you drank straight from the bottle and were among nonjudgmental friends or, um, alone.)

The backbone of the Riedel brand is “The content determines the shape”: that is, a wine cannot be fully appreciated unless consumed in a glass whose shape, volume, rim diameter, and crystal thickness complement the elements of that wine, from fruit character to aroma. This is why, for instance, Champagne is usually served in a tall, narrow flute, while reds like Merlot are poured into wider glasses. According to Riedel’s online wineglass guide, what you pour your Grüner Veltiner or Ruländer into even depends on its alcohol ratio.

Riedel bases its claims on research—much of which is available on its website—that includes a “tongue map,” illustrating that individual tastes (labeled as sweet, acid, salty, and bitter) are exclusive to different sections of the tongue. The Riedel glasses, thanks to Claus’ research, are able to properly deliver wine to the appropriate areas of the palate.

Behold, for example, the brand's Sommeliers series, which was released in 1973 as a 10-piece set; it now contains nearly four dozen glasses for liquid consumables from wines to water. A member of this series is one of Riedel's most famous glasses, the Burgundy Grand Cru, developed in 1958. "The large bowl allows the bouquet to develop to the full," the product description reads, "while the slightly flared top lip maximizes the fruit flavors by directing a precise flow onto the front palate." This glass, which is represented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, is considered "the greatest Burgundy glass of all time" by Decanter magazine.

Robert Parker, one of the most influential wine critics in the world, agrees. His endorsement—“The effect of [Riedel] glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize what a difference they make”—appears more than once on the Riedel site.

So Riedel's brand strength is based not only on its long history and European craftsmanship, but on scientific facts that prove its products deliver form and function.

There's only one problem, though: Riedel's scientific claims might not be true. The idea of a tongue map, at least as it's described on the brand's website, is at best inaccurate and likely based on a mistranslation. Gourmet declared in a 2004 article that Riedel's success has more to do with savvy salesmanship than gustatory inquiry: "Researchers haven’t found any scientific evidence that a $90 glass makes your wine smell or taste better than a $3 version from Wal-Mart."

But these revelations haven't hurt the brand. After all, wine-tasting can be a subjective science, tasters have been fooled into thinking they're drinking red wines that are actually whites-with-food-coloring, and even the great Robert Parker's grading methods have been criticized by many (including, ironically, by the folks at Decanter).

Consider, too, that no one outside of a campus near Beaverton, Oregon, would argue that $150 Nikes deliver 10 times the court performance of a pair of $14.98 Starbury kicks. And as much as Starbucks has become a metaphor for "overpriced," no one in the three crowded locations within view of my office seems to be gulping grandes under duress.

In other words, Riedel's stemware, like brands as varied as Coach and Godiva, falls into the amorphous "accessible luxury" category, and Riedel has several lines to accommodate varied consumer definitions of "accessible," including the sans-stem "O" series designed for everyday use and Grape, a lower-priced line sold exclusively at that bastion of shopping-mall luxury, Williams-Sonoma.

So whether you're deciding to pour that expensive Champagne into a sterling silver cup from Tiffany ($850, and its bowl is neither tall nor narrow), or a traditionally shaped glass from Wal-Mart ($29.86 for a set of four, plus a bucket for chilling the bubbly), you might want to recall a recent study conducted by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

A number of wines, identified only by their retail prices, were sampled. The subjects all declared the $90 wine superior to the $10 wine. These results would be unsurprising but for one small detail.

The two samples were from the same bottle of wine.


Anthony Zumpano sampled a number of red wines in his Reidel O series glass while writing this article.

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 24 )  email

Riedel - clink
 Having worked for Riedel for several years and personally met Georg Riedel and spent time visiting the factories, I would have to say that Riedel is both a fascinating discovery of how wines can be enhanced by using the correct glass and an exciting marketing concept that has been so successful because of savvy salesmanship and the drive and ambition of the Riedel family. Have some fun at home by creating your own experiment to judge for yourself.. grab some regionally acceptable wines (ie, Cabernet Sauv from Bordeaux, Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Sauv Blanc from Marlb, NZ) and Riedels range of glassware suitable to that variety, and also a glass - any glass will do. Conduct your own test by pouring the wine suitable to that variety into the corresponding Riedel Glass. Swirl, and put your nose in the glass. Then taste the wine. After about 30-60 secs put the wine into the unknown brand glass and do the same exercise. Judge for yourself. Afterall, Riedel is all about perception. 
Rachel, Sales Manager, Pernod Ricard - May 5, 2008
 I'd like to support Rachels opinion. As a product designer I worked exclusively on glass and porcelain for some time and the difference in experience of drinking an alcoholic beverage from the right glass is amazing. The experience of a very thin wall of glass is the first part of it. Furthermore, each beverage is served at a certain temperature, so according to the amount of alcohol the essence will vapourize very quickly (as for Cognac or red wine) or slowly (white wine). It's a quite common hoot, to name the occasions on which wine taster where wrong in their judgments. But maybe that's more on the judges than on the wine and the glasses. 
Henning Fritzenwalder, User Experience Architect, hfux - May 10, 2008
  brandchannel profile archive   2011  |  2010  |  2009  | 2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Jan 12, 2008
Dec 22, 2008 White Rabbit - hopped up -- Abram Sauer
  White Rabbit breeds branding dilemmas.
Dec 15, 2008 LendingTree - branching out -- Barry Silverstein
  LendingTree from the roots up.
Dec 8, 2008 Cisco - networked -- Barry Silverstein
  Cisco’s brand has the human touch.
Dec 1, 2008 POM Wonderful - punchy -- Chana Mayefsky
  Don’t take POM for granted.
Nov 24, 2008 Amway/Quixtar - rebranding scheme? -- Jenn Gidman
  The Amway brand seeks a new way in an old name.
Nov 17, 2008 Les Mills - toned? -- Chris Grannell
  Why Les Mills is working out all over.
Nov 10, 2008 Vuarnet - shady comeback -- Renée Alexander
  Vuarnet's sunny outlook despite a cloudy decade.
Nov 3, 2008 Jitterbug - celling to seniors -- Barry Silverstein
  Jitterbug dials in senior citizens.
Oct 27, 2008 Breast Cancer Awareness Month - supports -- Jenn Gidman
  The daily grind of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Oct 20, 2008 Coors Light - chillin' -- Renee Alexander
  Coors Light brand reflects a mountain of color ranges.
Oct 13, 2008 TASER International - shocking -- Abram Sauer
  What the public will be stunned to know about TASER.
Oct 6, 2008 Toronto-Dominion Bank - safe deposit -- Barry Silverstein
  Is the TD Bank brand money?
Sep 29, 2008 Ugly Stik - reels it in -- Abram Sauer
  Can Ugly Stik bend its brand into shape?
Sep 22, 2008 Wild Bunch - impressive -- Barry Silverstein
  Wild Bunch's natural growth into a world player.
Sep 15, 2008 NERF - foamiliar -- Jenn Gidman
  Why NERF isn't getting soft with age.
Sep 8, 2008 Lenovo - computes -- Barry Silverstein
  How the 2008 Summer Olympics made Lenovo a contender.
Sep 1, 2008 American Girl - dreams big -- Barry Silverstein
  American Girls appeal to generations of women.
Aug 25, 2008 WIN Sport Detergent - gold -- Alycia de Mesa
  How WINning keeps the US Olympic team clean.
Aug 18, 2008 Tomboy Trades - do-it-herself -- Barry Silverstein
  Tomboy Trades gives stereotypes a hammering.
Aug 11, 2008 B_E_E - harmless -- Barry Silverstein
  Eco-friendly brand cleans with design in mind.
Aug 4, 2008 Havaianas - imprints -- Barry Silverstein
  Havaianas steps in the thong direction.
Jul 28, 2008 Little Trees - evergreen -- Abram Sauer
  Smell the forest from the Little Trees.
Jul 21, 2008 AVIVA - covered? -- Renée Alexander
  AVIVA has Canada laughing.
Jul 14, 2008 Ocean Spray - mind-bog-ling -- Barry Silverstein
  Why the world is juiced over cranberries
Jul 7, 2008 InBev - drinking game -- Anthony Zumpano
  InBev left bitter over US beer brand
Jun 30, 2008 Smart - brainy wheels -- Barry Silverstein
  A small car with a global impact.
Jun 23, 2008 Muzak - coda? -- Barry Silverstein
  Elevator music gets down with the times.
Jun 16, 2008 Zapp! - maturing -- Preeti Khicha
  Clothes that kid around with fashion.
Jun 9, 2008 South Beach Diet - gains -- Barry Silverstein
  South Beach brands lifestyle, not diet
Jun 2, 2008 Nexxus - growing out -- Barry Silverstein
  Split ends just the beginning for Nexxus
May 26, 2008 Sephora - flawless -- Jenn Gidman
  Branding is more than skin deep
May 19, 2008 Vizio - picture perfect -- Barry Silverstein
  Vizio has big plans for flat screens
May 12, 2008 Volcanic Ass - spicy enough? -- Renée Alexander
  Will Volcanic Ass get fired up?
Apr 28, 2008 Tchibo - coffee breaks -- Ian Cocoran
  Wake up and smell the brand.
Apr 21, 2008 Mr. Clean - multi-tasks -- Barry Silverstein
  The bald man cleans up
Apr 14, 2008 SILKSTREET - knock it off -- Abram Sauer
  SILKSTREET brands rough material.
Apr 7, 2008 Wonderbra - uplifting -- Jenn Gidman
  Bra brand straps it on.
Mar 31, 2008 Camper Shoes - sole survivor -- Barry Silverstein
  Camper Shoes enjoy an international foothold
Mar 24, 2008 Kurkure - crunch time -- Preeti Khicha
  Kurkure's flavors spice up Indian taste buds.
Mar 17, 2008 Frito Lay - chip detox -- Renée Alexander
  Frito Lay gets hip to healthy the chip.
Mar 10, 2008 ESPN - good sport -- Barry Silverstein
  ESPN dominates sports coverage competition.
Mar 3, 2008 Anheuser-Busch - on tap -- Jenn Gidman
  The King of Beers brands its domain
Feb 25, 2008 Cofanifunebri - dying for attention -- Abram Sauer
  Italian coffin maker gets a leg up on death
Feb 18, 2008 Toto - porcelain gods -- Patrick Williamson
  Toto toilets are flush with opportunity.
Feb 11, 2008 Dabbawala - fast food -- Preeti Chaturvedi
  Dabbawalas: the tiffin carriers of Mumbai, India.
Feb 4, 2008 Guinness World Records - feat fetish -- Kimberly Maul
  Guinness World Records plays by the book—and more.
Jan 28, 2008 Colt 45 - takes aim -- Abram Sauer
  Can Colt 45 take aim on its target audience?
Jan 21, 2008 Big Johnson - no mojo? -- Abram Sauer
  Can Big Johnson score with today's marketplace?
Jan 14, 2008 Fevicol - strong bonds -- Preeti Khicha
  Carpenters stick with Fevicol's branding paradigm
Jan 7, 2008 The North Face - into the brand -- Barry Silverstein
  Has The North Face brand reached its peak?