Sunday, December 28, 2014

A new Champagne glass

(From left: Zalto White Wine / Riedel Veritas Champagne / Spiegelau "Adina water Goblet) 

A Danish glass aficionado (thank God there are more than me) recently brought to my attention that the new Champagne glass from Riedel (the Veritas series – middle on the image) was worth checking out. It however slipped my mind, before I attended a tasting where this glass was praised once again. Hmmmmm……Okay to hell with it – let’s see what the fuss is all about.
So a week ago, when tasting Chartogne-Taillet 2002 “Fiacre” I took it for a spin vs Zalto White Wine, which I am using more and more as my reference Champagne glass.

The Riedel Veritas Champagne glass overall has a good feel about it. It’s cool, classic design and on sight seems to be a good companion if you want to bring out the vinous side of Champagne – which I do. Although it’s machine made, it’s has a fairly low weight and a really thin stem. However, when arriving from Planet Zalto, everything seems bulky and heavy in comparison. This will always be an advantage for Zalto a no other glass brand has the same magic feel about it IMHO.

Fiacre is a lovely Champagne, which always makes me in a good mood. In Riedel “Fiacre” performed classic and really good. If you knew of no other glass, this would be a great Champagne glass.

In Zalto however (left), it was another story. It’s been a while since I have conducted glass tests, but here I overwhelmed by the difference. Zalto was a millions time better. It’s simply a difference in frehness and focus, which makes all Champagnes in Zalto seems so frisky. Returning to Riedel; “Fiacre” was suddenly much heavier and sweeter and I am confident it has to do with the fact you are tasting lead (Riedel) vs lead-free (Zalto).

Another test: 28. december 2014.

2010 Doamine Belluard “Ayse Mont-Blanc Brut Zero”
(So not Champagne, but a sparkling wine from Savoie made from 100% Grignet). Seriously one of the best non-Champagnes I have ever tasted. A real bargain)

More or less the same result, though not as clear as Zalto’s first win. This time Adina was also in play. In Riedel it was more about simple fruit, which of course is okay. But the wine was lacking secondary nuances as the fruity impression was overwhelming. Yet in Adina, it has a more toned down/subtle appeal, which provided more elegance. In Zalto you had the edgy feel again, where the wine felt really naked, yet also far more mysterious and interesting with the mineral spine really kicking in. I am not sure everyone would go for the Zalto as winner here, as it shows the wine far more raw and unpolished. But I like this raw and racy expression.  

Test – from 16th of January 2015.

2008 “L’Apôtre” from David Léclapart

This time Adina vs Zalto. Hard to say, who actually won here, because we were dealing with a very shy Champagne.  But the pattern was the same. In this case, the Adina glass seemed to have an advantage by opening up  “L’Apôtre” a bit more. However it was just an illusion, caused by the wider opening of the glass and the feel of some fruit coming forward. The Champagne was indeed sealed like an oyster. I still favoured Zalto, despite it was a strange test really, simple because the firmness and feel of the energy in Zalto was better, which is always the case for me. On day two – I forgot about testing and just enjoyed the second half of the bottle in Zalto. 

New test: 30th of Janury 2015

2011 Jérôme Prévost “Les Béguines “

Zalto vs Riedel. It really came close this time. Riedel really captured the essence of “Les Béguines “. Refined and fresh in Riedel – no fuzz at all, just like Zalto. Where it goes wrong for Riedel, is when it warms up in temperature. First of all it accelerates faster in Riedel, whereas as Zalto keeps the wine cooler. Or it feels like that and of course Riedel in general has a wider bowl. But one difference seems once again to be the unleaded vs a lead glass. In Riedel the wine becomes clumsier when raised in temperature and the feel of lead. In Zalto there is a constant firmness and nothing is lost or sticks out, when it warms up – only a natural temperature evolvement.

I might do one of two testing’s more – but I think there a pattern is starting to form.


Ben said...

That's surprising that you are switching from the Spiegelau to the Zalto.

I wondered if you'd tried the Riedel Sommeliers "Vintage" champagne glass?

(As written about here:

Thomas said...

Dear Ben,

It’s really interesting how you can not only adapt, but also tend for favor another glass. It’s however no uncommon when it comes to calibrating your tastes buds. A good example could be when I started to get exposed to Non-dosage Champagne. I initially thought they were sort of too skinny and dry and I missed that sweet touch. Now it’s the other way around.

In Zalto everthing is so naked. It’s very raw to drink from Zalto. But I like that. At a recent tasting we talked about glasses. One of the attendees said: “I am not sure the wine is supposed to taste the way it taste in Zalto glasses”. I disagreed with what he said – but I knew exactly what he meant. What is right and wrong here? What glass you like is very personal as I see it.

I have the Riedel Sommerliers Champagne vintage glasses. I have had them for many years. They perform solid with classic Champagne, but for the more vinous side of Champagne they are not good for my preferences.

That said – with all the testing and stuff – Spiegelau Adina is a really good glass and I still use it.

Best from,

Ben said...

Hi Thomas,
Thank you for the very informative reply. A few nights ago, my wife and I compared drinking 2003 Ledru Goulte (from magnum) from the Zalto White Wine and from Riedel Sommeliers Vintage glasses. The champagne tasted so much better from the Zalto that we could hardly believe it! I'm really glad to have read your thoughts about these glasses.

Shwin said...


I have been following your blog for a few years and recently have been given the chances to purchase the Zalto white wine glasses (which were not available in Thailand before now), so after reading your review and comparison I am really looking forward to it.

My one query for you is with regards to the decanting of Champagne, do you have any specific thoughts or view on this? The reason I ask is that I think the Zalto carafe no.75 seems like a perfect decanter for champagne with its elongated tall profile, but having never actually decanted any champagne before I am not sure if 1) is it worth it? 2) would I risk ruining the wine?



Thomas said...

Hi Shwin,

Thank you for chiming in.

I have no doubt that you will appreciate the Zalto White Wine. It’s exceptional for Champagne and also becoming the preferred glass among the most innovative producers in Champagne.

Despite all my experimentation on glass - and general curiosity on wine itself – Decanting Champagne is something I have never really done. I have tried it though in some restaurants. The results have been mixed. It’s not because I don’t believe in it, but it’s more a feeling of setting the scene too much, if you understand? The decanting process becomes too primary and the Champagne becomes secondary. Did the decanting work? Was it better with or without decanting?

If you want to decant you should ask yourself what is the purpose? What is sort of “wrong” with the Champagne without decanting? What are you looking to bring out with decanting?

That said I have had lots of Champagne, which felt too young and for sure decanting might have helped. But there is no guarantee. Without decanting you can just pour a glass and let the rest wait for half an hour or so. But for sure – sometimes you don’t have that luxury.

Decanting can for sure you can do damage to the mousse and the Champagne can lose some tension. For some protection you need a tall and narrow decanter – Like Zalto No. 75. It’s really ideal if you want to try it.

Good luck and let us know the outcome if you try.

Best from,

Especially the Champagnes from Selosse should be ideal decanting

Anonymous said...

These wine glasses are gorgeous! I'm so glad you ended up liking them so much. My mom loves specialty wine glasses, and it's always fun to surprise her with a set for her birthday. I've been going out, and looking for the perfect wine glasses, so it's always fun to hear about others experiences. I was also thinking about buying her a simple wine rack this year, just to keep in her kitchen. I think she would like that very much.

Mary said...

I am thinking about upgrading my glassware, especially my champagne glassware...and open to suggestions.

Which Adina glass did you use in your trials?

Suggestions for meunier based champagnes? I drink a lot of meunier based champagnes in a variety of styles (Collard, Collard-Picard, Bedel, Egly-Ouriet, De Meric). I suspect that the perfect glass for a Collard is not the saem for Ely-Ouriet...even more so when drinking non meunier dominant champagnes. I love both the fat oxidative leesy style of meuniers as well as the more edgy leaner styles. Any suggestons apprecaited....even if it means two differnt styles of glassware.

Thanks for sharing your 'wine madness'.


Thomas said...

Hi Mary,

My favourite Champagne glass is Zalto.

But before I got into the Zalto universe I used the Adina glass from Spiegelau. It’s a great glass, which both opens up the flavours of Champagne, but maintains some minerality grip. It has a better flow of bubbles for the eye than Zalto, because of the narrower shape at the bottom of the glass.

Zalto shows a more naked and raw side of the Champagne. I prefer this style – but that’s always an individual choice.

I haven’t actually bought the Adina glass directly from Spiegelau, but from a restaurant here in Denmark, which is the only retailer of them here. They have their own name for the glass.

But I believe they call the glass “Adina Red wine (Water Goblet).

Take care.

Mary said...

Thomas - Thanks for the suggestions and detailed reasons for your preferances. I appreciated the detailed context for your choices based on the style..or side of champagne that you like.

I might getting both glasses..and then taste in both...see which champagne shows best in which glass.


Steve S. from Princeton NJ said...

Do you have any opinion of the Zalto Champagne glass vs. the Zalto White Wine glass?

Thomas said...

Hi Steve,

Both are great glasses.

The Zalto Champagne glass is exceptional beautiful shaped. Feather light and incredible feel to just hold and drink from it. That said and despite I have 12 of them – I actually only used them for guest when serving a simple, fresh and fruit driven Champagne. I don’t think they are that great to smell from. The bowl is simple too small and it’s even a challenge to give the wine a decent spin in the glass.

That’s where the White Wine glass steps in and brings out the vinous side of the Champagne. I use this glass in 95% for all my Champagne experiences at home.

Happy hunting

Best from,

Vinesh Chapaneri said...

Hi Thomas,

Very interesting read on your thoughts about the differences of glassware for champagnes. I currently use a Zalto Universal for champagne, I was wondering if you know how it compares to the Zalto White Wine that you use and also the Zalto Sweet Wine glass, which is somewhat similar to Krug's Joseph glass. Also, have you used the Gabriel Glas at all or have any thoughts on it?

Kind Regards,