Wine Tasting with a difference

Wine is bottled poetrysaid Robert Louis Stevenson and last week I had the privilege of being invited to a wine tasting with a difference.

Several delicious courses of food, accompanying some of NZ’s best wines and all served in the correct wine glasses. And in this case, it appeared, it was the stemware that we had come to admire. The glasses from Riedel (which rhymes with needle), spoke for themselves…………..

However, to gently convert even the strongest sceptic, NZ’s own “The Wine Guy”, Gavin Hubble stole the show.

Gavin is enigmatic and entertaining. Even the truly tired amongst us would have sat up to listen when Gavin started to speak. His knowledge about wine, it’s history, its production and how we smell, taste and appreciate it, is extraordinary. I swear – for a night where wine was predominant – you could have heard a pin drop when information was being shared.

Image 1I have read about Riedel glasses. I have even had the misfortune of breaking one at a dinner party in Indonesia (which is of course a story in itself) – and it isn’t easy to break them (as they are lead crystal!) so I must have been way too hard on it! However, the price tag on a Riedel glass reflects the years of knowledge and the precise craftsmanship – and it is a price tag not easy to swallow. So, consequently, they have never actually made it onto my wish list – until now!!


Gavin captivated us with the history of the Riedel family. The astonishing story of Claus Riedel who survived a leap from a moving train over the Brenner Pass in WWII and subsequently changed the direction of his life and of his family’s glassware business. By the time the tales were woven, we wanted to love the glasses – the scene was set!!

And then came the tasting. An elongated night of sensory overload and pleasure. Wine in their correctly sized and shaped, stemmed glasses (grape specific stemware to be exact). Wines poured from a tragically recognisable ordinary ‘joker’ glass (XL5 tasting glass) and back into the famous Riedel’s.

Will the nose be different? Will it affect the taste? Well, by golly it did exactly that. At one point, I wondered when the trick would be revealed – it was like a magical night, and perhaps I have spent too long on MasterchefNZ but I kept waiting for the catch. And, if you ignore the price of the glasses, (a catch in itself) then you have to acknowledge there is no trickery here.


These glasses are remarkable. Gavin draws our attention to the visual appeal, to where the wine hits our palate; to the shape of the bowl of the glass………my mind was spinning as I took in as much information (and delicious wine) as I could. The food matched impeccably – Gavin, had of course, ensured that by pre-tasting in advance and working with the Head Chef of Auckland’s Northern Club, who nailed every dish (in my humble opinion!)

So when you hear Gavin state that “life is too short to drink bad wine” I guess you have to tag on the end a little postscript of – and too short to use substandard stemware!

Our issue is we are a tough family. We are tough on our stuff. We don’t mean to be but we need to appreciate we are. And from what I could gather, our dishwasher is an inferior make also – the glasses come with a hand in hand partnership with Miele – now who would have thought!!


So my Christmas list is starting to take shape well in advance. I just need to determine which is my favourite wine so that I can be clear which of the nearly 2000 shapes of glass is going to be best suited for my new stemware display cabinet and replacement dishwasher!!

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