Ask Maximilian Riedel who started the trend of ditching flutes in favor of wider-bowled glasses for sipping Champagne and he’ll tell you, “I did.” With his first Champagne wineglass, launched in 2014, he questioned tradition. Now the industry standard has moved to more generous bowls for bubbles. The wider glass exposes more surface area to oxygen, allowing the floral aromas and fruit flavors in the wine to express themselves. In a flute the yeast character is more dominant.
Maximilian, the 11th generation in Austria’s iconic glassmaking family and CEO of Riedel Crystal since 2013, will also tell you that his first passion is wine, not glassware. “The glass is only an instrument for making the wine taste as good as possible,” he says. It was his grandfather Claus Riedel who first fashioned an egg-shaped bowl (instead of the flared designs—think Waterford), pioneering the notion that the shape and size of a glass affect the taste of what’s in it.
Maximilian’s father, Georg Riedel, demonstrated to professionals and fans that Burgundy, say, doesn’t taste
as good out of a glass designed for Bordeaux as it does out of a Burgundy- dedicated vessel. The wider bulb of
the Burgundy glass encourages the delicate bouquet of Pinot Noir to develop. While the Bordeaux crystal is narrower, it’s also taller, giving that wine, which tends to have a higher alcohol content, more space to open up and lift the alcohol off the wine, allowing a Bordeaux’s aroma to come to the fore. And now it’s Maximilian who’s developing ever more innovative shapes matched to varietals, regions and even single wines, confident that every glass handblown in the factory will fulfill its mission—to magnify the pleasure of drinking the wine it’s destined to hold.