Riedel Os

The name of the Riedel O range makes me smile.  Riedel-O sounds like it should belong in a folk song, and the Four Candles sketch comes to mind when I hear Os being talked about.  I presume O is pronounced like the letter, and not zero – but suddenly I am not so sure.

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of 3 different types: Viogner/Chardonnay, Cabernet/Merlot and Syrah/Shiraz, as shown left to right in that order above. The Cabernet/Merlot glasses were supplied to me free of charge by Amara for review, which prompted this blog post, but I purchased the others myself and have been using them for a several years now.

To state the obvious, these glasses are stemless.   However, the bowl parts are comparable in terms of size, shape and rim thickness to what you might call a proper decent quality wine glass, like the glasses in the Riedel Vinum range for example.

Unlike the Vinum range though, these glasses are not lead crystal.  But that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Lead crystal  may be tougher, but it is also softer and more prone to dishwasher damage.  Aesthetically, I think I also prefer to hold non-lead glasses of this sort of quality, with or without a stem, as they are lighter and feel more delicate.

Personally I really like the appearance of Os, but obviously that is a matter of taste.  They might look out-of-place with a traditional table setting, and would work better in a more contemporary context.

From a practical point of view the big advantages of stemless wine glasses is that they are more compact for storage and carrying around, and they are less likely to get knocked over.  And with traditional glasses, the stems are often the part that breaks – so, all other things being equal, Os are generally more robust.

The most often quoted downside is the unsightly finger marks that are more likely to accumulate on a stemless glass.  I can’t say that bothers me – besides many people seem to hold stemmed glasses by the bowl anyway.  As an accredited wine ponce, I do of course usually hold glasses by the stem (or even the foot), as it is a lot easier to swirl like that.  For that reason alone I would normally prefer a stemmed glass.

For me, however, stemless glasses come into their own for outdoor eating, taking to restaurants that have poor wine glasses, and taking on holiday so you can enjoy wine in your hotel room in a decent glass.  They also get used for non-wine drinks in our house – anything seems to taste better in a thin rimmed glass.

But how important is the shape of the bowl for the enjoyment of different types of wine.  Well, in honour of my freebie Cabernet/Merlot glasses, I road tested a Lascar Merlot in each of the three types of Os in my possession.  I can honestly say the wine smelled and tasted pretty much the same in each glass.  Apart from that, I’d point out that the Viognier/Chardonnay one is a lot stubbier than the other glasses.  As such, the thickness in the base seems more obtrusive and it is a lot less elegant – but it is a lot more convenient for carrying around.

The O range has been around for several years now, but you still see very few stemless wine glasses.  For the reasons outlined above, I think they deserve to be better known.

Author: Steve Slatcher

Wine enthusiast

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