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Taking the Riedel Coke glass for a spin

KESSLERCOKE-1Georg Riedel, an Austrian glassware manufacturer, shook up the wine world with his line of crystal stemware dedicated to specific grape varietals. He asserted that a pinot noir-based wine from Burgundy needed a vastly different glass than a Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, which in turn needed a different glass than an American zinfandel. If you didn’t believe him, he would sit down with you, pour wine, and watch as your eyes went wide.

Riedel and I did just that about 20 years ago, sampling wines in two side-by-side glasses. The differences weren’t subtle, they were breathtaking — the smells that came out of the glass, the place on your tongue where the taste connected, the acidity, the tannins, the length of time the flavor remained in your mouth after you swallowed. It was all different.

And now Riedel has turned his attention to Dixie champagne. The Coca-Cola + Riedel glass has recently debuted, and you can get yourself a set of two for about $20. These thin, elegant and curvaceous glasses are the product of a joint-development project between Riedel and the Atlanta soda giant.

“This is our very first glass outside of the alcoholic world, ” Riedel said by telephone. “Coca-Cola is a new platform of experience. We looked for the most intimate and secret message the flavor profile of Coca-Cola can release.” Oh, Coke, you vixen.

Also on the line was Brad Fields, the global drinkware manager for Coca-Cola who got this whole project underway. “This project is the merging of two dreams, ” he said.

After touring Riedel’s manufacturing facility in Frankfurt, Germany, Fields invited the company to come up with a design. Riedel got to work, taking into account the mitigating factors that affect taste (shape, size, rim diameter) as well as the traditional shape of the Coke glass, with its iconic cyma curve. He also looked at the basic 8-ounce Coke bottle, what he calls “the root bottle.”

Last April, Riedel arrived in Atlanta with 18 different prototypes to conduct a sensory workshop. The tasting panel of 20 people consisted of both “top flavor experts” as well as marketing and public relations folk. They drank Coke after Coke, taking aroma, mouth-feel and flavor differences into consideration.

“We came hands-down to one shape on the tasting panel, ” Fields said. “It was amazing.”

I would have to see this for myself. After my Riedel glasses arrived, I set up a Coke tasting at my house and assembled an expert tasting panel (my wife and kid) to see just what magic this glass could or could not accomplish on our fizzy friend.

We also sampled the Coke from a champagne flute, a bourbon tasting glass, a juice glass and right from the bottle.

The other tasters thought they could discern slight differences. I tasted Coke. Nothing but Coke. Thankfully not Pepsi. But Coke. This fancy glass seemed like nothing but a cynical marketing ploy, which depressed me.

And then a thought occurred. We were drinking Coke the preferred way in our household — without ice. This big glass was made for ice.

Sure enough, once you fill it with ice, this glass shows its stuff. The shape seems to snake-charm the soda’s effervescence. As you pour, you watch the ring of bubbles slither down. The bubbles tickle your nose just right, and the lemony acidity of the soda comes up front and center.

I just had one pressing question, which I needed to ask Georg Riedel.

He thought about this query for a moment and carefully answered, “That has not been addressed. We’ve not made a workshop about it. But, yes, I think the glass would work for Diet Coke.”

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

15 comments Add your comment

Hungry Gringo

February 21st, 2014
1:16 pm

That looks like it’d work pretty well with Dogfish 90 Minute too.

Weirdo

February 21st, 2014
2:00 pm

To me, ice dilutes Coca-Cola.

2 sense

February 21st, 2014
3:24 pm

Coke from the fridge,WITH ice, is amazing.

B. Thenet

February 22nd, 2014
7:51 am

It looks very similar to the IPA specific glass that Dogfish Head had created.

Cheez Whiz is cheese peeing?

February 22nd, 2014
9:00 am

It’s just sugar. The major contributor to childhood obesity and diabetes.

I thought this was a food blog.

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

February 22nd, 2014
7:24 pm

Anyone else tired of Kessler’s blog entries? It’s like he is mailing them in.

M. Johnson

February 23rd, 2014
4:15 pm

Love it. Makes me want to buy Riedel glasses for my Malbec. Thanks for the fun piece.

gdfo

February 24th, 2014
6:40 am

If you ask any wine pro or any fine whisky afficianado they will tell you that they taste their items at or about room temperature and not with ice or chill enhanced. There is a reason. Cold dumbs down certain volatile aroma and flavors but can bring out sharpness.

Many people even warm brandies and congnacs for this reason. Many people know that refridgerating wine for too long and too early will kill the fruit in a wine and all you will tasted is Cold wine.

I can understand that serving a soda ice cold makes sense as it would also remove any artificial aromas or flavors and bring out the acid or sharpness of the drink.

None of the 2 big sodas taste the way they did in the 1950s or 60s, not even 7up. 7up had taken the lemon grass out of it product and there is no root in rootbeer.

Take 2 glasses of water from your tap. Leave one where it will get warm and put another in your fridge. Taste both of them after 1 hour then again after 2 hours etc. You will taste the difference.

Put a couple of ounces of your favorite soda in a short glass or even a wine glass. Let it sit out and get warm and let it lose its co2. Now add one tablespoon of water to it. Distilled water preferred but warm tap will do. Now smell the product. Aha!!!!!!

Grasshopper

February 24th, 2014
11:05 pm

I can’t imagine not serving Coke over ice.

What you need to do now is have an ice shape test. IMO the best ice for Coke is the pea sized pellet ice or small chips. They Take up more volume in the glass and have more crags to catch the Coke as it fills the glass which in turn increases the carbonation and allows you to pour less. Less liquid in the glass means you will swig it quicker and less ice will melt in the process meaning no watery Coke.

Capisce?

Ptc Dawg

February 25th, 2014
12:28 pm

The smaller glass bottles of Co-Cola right out of an ice tub….that is the ticket..some salted peanuts are good too. :)

Baltisraul....

February 26th, 2014
10:25 am

CheesWiz……it is not a major contributor to childhood obesity if parents have an IQ over 50. I never blame the product. The power of proper eating starts at the home dinner table and an educated child. It is not that big a deal for good, smart parents!

Ned Ludd

February 26th, 2014
11:06 am

Balt–Parents should take responsibility but it is so much easier and trendier to blame the product. Rather than ’sugar made my kid fat’, it should be ‘I am the maroon who gave my kid all that sugar’. Moderation is the key.

Bring back New Coke, wonder what it would taste like in this glass.

Hope the wedding went well and you had a great limp down the aisle.

Baltisraul....

February 26th, 2014
12:58 pm

Ned…….Wedding was great with no stress from either side. The only questionable decision was that my daughter let her new husband decide the menu. 4 starches and a salad. I believe the caterer should have spoken up! Grandmother sure did! No hint of a limp. Thanks to Aleve.

AzCat

February 28th, 2014
7:56 am

I hope you’re not still thirsty, Balt. ;-)

Ned Ludd

February 28th, 2014
8:09 am

Fortunately it is the last decision he will ever get to make!