Coke’s Glass Act

Source: Riedel

When I was in daily news I sometimes worked on stories so big they were sent out as a bulletin series — two or three short sentences that moved on high priority. So, Twitter without the snark, basically. I mention this only because I wish I had something like that to highlight today’s big, big news which is that Riedel,the fancy pants German glassware company, has designed … a special glass for drinking Coca-Cola.


The bespoke beaker costs a mere $19.90, or about $19 more than the drink itself, and it’s curved in a way that is reminiscent of classic coke bottles and those ’70s Coke glasses that were popular for a while. According to the company website the glass is “made to enhance the drinking experience” and was developed by a tasting panel of “industry experts and Coca-Cola lovers.” The design of the glass “captures the distinct spices, aroma and taste of Coca-Cola and creates a magic sensorial experience.”

OK. For a magic sensorial experience I will fork over 20 big ones.

Reaction to the news was swift.

Guy Woodward, editor of Food and Travel magazine was taken aback.

Riedel designs glass especially for drinking coke. This is not a joke. I wonder what it WOULDN’T design a glass for?

— Guy Woodward (@guyawoodward) January 8, 2014


Alex Redfern, a Londoner working in the wine trade, was suspicious.

Come on Riedel. A coke glass! It’s way too early for an April Fools.

— Alex Redfern (@alxredfern) January 8, 2014


But Maximilian Riedel, the charismatic leader of the company, was perfectly serious.

It is official!!! #CocaCola and #Riedel have been working on a #glass which shows the #Iconic #taste of #Coke at…

— Maximilian Riedel (@MaxiRiedel) January 7, 2014


If you follow Riedel, this won’t come as a huge surprise. The company makes a wide range of glasses that are alleged to enhance different drinks including a chardonnay/chablis glass for regular wines made with that grape which is not to be confused with their Montrachet glass for chardonnays that hail from that fabled white wine region of France.

And after perusing the Riedel website I feel moved to tell you that one of the line of glasses offered is called the “Sommelier” with the tag phrase “mouth blown in Austria.”

Now that sounds like something worthy of a bulletin series.


Ice, ice baby!

I learned something new the other day. The practice of popping an icecube or two into a glass of wine is known in France as “piscine,” from the French word for swimming pool. The idea being that your cubes are swimming around in a pool of vino.

And really, what could be better than learning that something you’ve been feeling a wee bit guilty about doing actually has a name. A French name, no less.

I have been drinking my reds, roses and whites over ice for quite some time. More often white than red and certainly not a really fantastic bottle. (Getting a wine really cold emphasizes the tannins and inhibits some qualities you might want to appreciate in a fine vintage.) But for everyday table wine, which is the wine I drink most often, I find a little bit of icetakes the edge off the alcohol and just makes the glass more of a cocktail, less of a commitment.

I got the idea from the late, great wine pioneer Robert Mondavi, who was known to pop a couple cubes in his glass when the weather turned warm.

So I have tradition on my side, plus the knowledge that I’m positively chic.

Cheers, frostily.



Scoring a wine century


So many bottles, so little time ?Michelle Locke

I’ve always been in the Groucho Marx school of club membership _ I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member. But a club where you drink your way in? That sounds like a pretty good idea.

The group in question is The Wine Century Club, where admittance requires trying 100 different grape varieties. For a change-a-phobe like myself who, left to my own devices, probably would drink chardonnay, chardonnay, Riesling, followed by more chardonnay, this is quite the challenge.

What’s it like?I asked my friend A. who is more than halfway toward his goal of getting to 100 within a year. He’s gotten in the habit of snapping each bottle with his iPhone, which helps keep track, and having knowledgeable and friendly wine shop allies has been a help.

The first 50 weren’t all that hard to come by and most of the wines have been pretty good, he says. “I had a lip-smackin’ Godello, a white from Spain. And have become a bona fide fan of Nero D’Avalo from Sicily — which is kind of the point — to find wines you’d never normally pick up. Fortunately I have a lot of friends (and am married to someone) who don’t particularly care what they drink as long as it doesn’t [vivid two-word combination conveying general lack of quality]. So I bring these oddities to parties and before you know it, they’re gone.”

One way to look at the exercise is as a way to save the varietals that haven’t made it into the “big six” _ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Ultimately, what A. likes is the club “turns my drinking into a project. It has parameters. It has goals. And along the way you discover new wines, you learn (from back labels) something about the region, about the year, about the topography. It’s like the booze-world’s version of stamp collecting, in this way. It’s educational and world-broadening. And I think Americans need this kind of thing. We still live with Puritan guilt. We’re wayward Puritans many of us and if you can somehow turn pleasure into a project that resembles engineering or scientific inquiry, so much the better.”

I’ll drink to that. Maybe with a Rkatsiteli or a Xynomavro.

No, I did not make those up.



Learning to speak vinacular: Meeting the’great crew’

My career as a wine country reporter started out at the top _ a visit to Harlan Estate, a place that makes small quantities of big wines that routinely win the highest of praise from critics and collectors.

It was one of those situations where, luckily, I was too naive to see how in over my head I was. Although I knew we were someplace special when we found a jag waiting to drive us around the property.

Sadly, that was my first and last time, so far at least, of being chauffered in such style. Winery founder Bill Harlan was the perfect host, giving me a primer on  the basics of high-quality grape growing as well as sharing his vision to create a wine that could compete with the famous chateaux of France.

At least, that’s what I figured out later after carefully going over my tape and looking stuff up. At the time, I wasn’t processing too clearly. I remember writing in my notebook, Wants to create a great crew in California. Made sense to me, I mean, we all need a good work force, right?

Of course, now I know he was talking about creating a California “grand cru,” or “first growth,” the French classification for wine of the highest quality that is awarded to only a few estates.I’m happy to say this was one of those times I resorted to the old smile and nod. Such a useful tool in the reporters’ workbox.Except for the time I interviewed Edward Teller.

But that’s another story.


Learning to speak vinacular: My buddy Brunello

Writing about wine is a wonderful thing. Great places to visit, smart, engaging people to talk to … and a whole new world of ways to stick your foot right in your mouth.

Let me tell you about my first experience with Brunello di Montalcino.

It was some years ago and I was writing about an international wine competition. The important part for me was that a couple of California wines had scored big. Local angle, check.

But I couldn’t help noticing as I scanned the list that Brunello di Montalcino came up a lot, too. Really an impressive showing in the top 10.

So, when I interviewed one of the contest officials, I had to ask: “Who is this Brunello guy? He really seems to be raking in the prizes.” (I didn’t share, but I had a whole vision in my head of Mr. B. Stocky, muscular, dark brown hair just beginning to go gray and a rich, riotously curly beard.)

There was pause. A sigh. And then the official said gently, “Brunello di Montalcino is a type of wine.

“Ah,” I said, ever one with the quick comeback.

I am sure you would never drop such a clanger, but just in case you need a refresher, Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine produced from grapes grown in vineyards near the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. Brunello means brownish (roughly) in Tuscan dialect and the wine is made from a clone of the sangiovese grape. Not a lot gets made and this is one of those wines prized by collectors; 2004 was a good vintage.

Adding a bit of drama, the region was the source of scandal a few years ago when Italian authorities investigated whether some producers were using grapes other than sangiovese, strictly forbidden under the many regulations governing how brunello is made.

So, that’s your brunello primer for today.

Now, I’m off to find out more about my new wine friend, that Australian minx Margaret River.