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© Ric Einstein 2009
of a Glass
Recently I received the following e-mail from Mac McCuskey who is a
regular reader, residing in the U.S.. He poses some interesting questions and as
the answers may be useful to readers I have posted it here.
Mac said, “I wonder if you have had any wine served in
some German wine glasses made by Eisch. They claim that within 2 to 4 minutes
the wine will open as if it had been decantered for an hour. A vendor lent us
two of these glasses last week, so we decided to put them to the test.
We cracked a 2002 Turkey Flat Shiraz during one of our Friday afternoons
sessions. I poured the wine into two Eisch glasses and two other wine glasses of
similar size (one 26 oz and one 20 oz.) Five of us tried the wine in three
separates sessions, alternating between the regular glass and the Eisch glasses.
We all agreed, (without a doubt) that there was a big and improved difference
with the wine in the Eisch glasses. To me the difference was pretty much as
stated in my opening line. The wine in the Eisch glasses gave the impression of
a decantered wine, “no doubt about it”.
Question: was it better in the Eisch glasses compared to the regular glasses. A
close call, but not requiring a need for a photo finish image. Firstly the 02
Turkey Flat Shiraz is a superb bottle of Shiraz. In the regular glasses the nose
seemed like it was better than in the Eisch. Now for me that's pretty
significant because my sense of smell is not what it used to be, and the flavour
of the wine was all there, a bit upfront but quite delightful. In the Eisch
glasses, on the palate the flavour was more subtle and actually got better the
longer it stayed in the glass, leaving the wine in the regular glasses some
The vendor who loaned us the glasses came in on Tuesday night and we opened a
bottle of 2001 Parker Coonawarra First Growth. We repeated the process, except
the regular wine glasses we used were a bit smaller.
Once again there was a noticeable difference in the wines. The Parker wine in
the regular glasses was somewhat closed, in the Eisch it had opened up
beautifully, but not quite to its full potential.
Bottom line: The Eisch glasses are $12 a pop, in the same range as Riedels here.
If one is really into wine, and can afford to have a range of glasses, they
should have a few of the Eisch glasses for when they don't have time to decanter
a wine. For me its 2 out of 2.
Ric, at a point in time, see if you can try out these glasses and post your
thoughts on your site.”
PS We are now looking at Eisch decanters!
TORB Responds: In answer to the questions raised, I will answer them in
three different segments.
The first is in relation to wine glasses in general. Very few people would
disagree that the shape and size of a wine glass have a huge impact on the
bouquet of the wine. The ISO glasses used in wine shows that were the industry
standard have now been replaced by Riedel glasses at the Royal Sydney Show and
the most prestige Australian wine show, the National Wine Show in Canberra is
trialing them later this year.
Sometime ago, I was running short of everyday drinking glasses and was unable to
purchase any Spiegelau Bordeaux glasses that I normally use and bought some
other design Spiegelau Cabernet glasses. As soon as I started using these new
glasses, whilst nosing wines, I was picking up aromas that were unexpected. An
experiment was tried whereby I poured the same wine into one of these new
glasses, the old Spiegelau Bordeaux glass and an ISO. I carried out the
experiment with a number of different wines, both Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz,
over a period of weeks. The results were startling. Without exception, the
wines’ aromas were consistent in the ISO and the Bordeaux glass, but the
Cabernet glass showed characters that were not particularly attractive, and were
not found in the other two glasses. That was enough for me, and I have avoided
them like the plague since. If you look at the Cabernet and the Bordeaux
glasses, they don't look all that different, but that subtle variation in shape
can have a huge difference on the bouquet.
If you believe the marketing blurb put out by companies like Riedel, the shape
of the wine glass is also important because it helps deliver the wine to the
right position on the palate. This logic may be an excellent justification to
help these companies sell a large range of glasses, but to my way of thinking,
it is pure rubbish.
Sure, drinking out of classy wine glasses is aesthetically pleasing, but I
cannot find any scientific justification for these claims. One can only wonder
why a company like Riedel has not widely published independent scientific tests
to support their claims. From my own perspective, and I have tested this, the
same wine tasted from an ISO, a Riedel Shiraz glass, and a Spiegelau Cabernet
Sauvignon glass, all taste exactly the same.
The Eisch Claims
The first thing I did was go to the Eisch web site to see what details were
The first thing they claim is
“New Oxygenising - Treatment
A wine poured into this glass for just two to four minutes will show signs of
aeration equivalent to the same wine that has been decanted and aerated for 1 to
An interesting claim, but what does it will mean, how do you measure it, and how
do you either prove or disprove it? The
If for example, you take a very young big Australian Shiraz and decanted for an
hour, in many cases there is certainly not going to be a huge amount of change
that could be perceived by most people. On the other hand, if you take a very
old wine, if you believe these claims the wine should fall apart in the glass
before you get chance to enjoy it. To the best of my knowledge, currently there
is no technology that would enable this claim to be scientifically proved. It
may be able to be proved in a pseudoscientific test by blindfolding people.
On their web site, they then proudly boast an endorsement which reads as
follows, "Robert Parker Event - First presentation of the Breathable Glass to
the public at the 25th Anniversary of the Robert Parker Wine Advocat Festival at
the Culinary Institute of America, California Ronn R. Wiegand Master of Wine &
Master Sommelier Publisher, Restaurant Wine (said) “I was especially impressed -
Remarkable! Congratulations on a real contribution to the enjoyment of wine! ”
Notice, they managed to use the Robert Parker name hoping to gain credibility by
association but the reality of the situation is that all they managed to come up
with was an almost inane quote by an MW who also publishes a magazine. I also
wonder if these glasses are advertised in Ronn R. Wiegand’s magazine?
Their next claim reads, “manufacturing technology - Breathable Glasses are made
from a special raw material mixture in lead-free crystal glass quality. After
the actual manufacturing process, the glasses undergo an oxygenising treatment
which gives the Breathable Glasses ist unique properties.”
Very interesting! All the first sentence tells us, in a fancy way, is that the
wine is made of glass and does not contain crystal. The second sentence is the
crux of the technology behind this miraculous product, the manufactured glass
undergoes an “oxygenising treatment” but what the heck is that? In another part
of their web site they state “The Breathable Glass has a completely natural
effect – it simply strongly accelerates the reaction of the wine with the
atmospheric oxygen that takes place anyway.” The reality is that any
well-designed large wine glass will accelerate the absorption of oxygen over a
small glass, so whilst their claim may be true, to my way of thinking it's
In summary, as far as the aroma is concerned, there is no doubt the shape and
size of the glass can have a huge impact on the bouquet. If these glasses were
improving the aeration and making the wine seem as though it had been decanted
for an hour or two within minutes, the first place that should be noticeable
would be on the bouquet. The fact that in both instances the trial wines showed
better bouquet is in the non Eisch glasses, seriously makes me wonder about the
validity of their claims.
As far as the wine tasting better, I don't believe shape the one glass to
another makes any appreciable difference and as I have stated previously, to the
best of my knowledge there are not even any pseudo scientific tests to support
these claims. As to why during the trials Mac and his mates found the two wines
tasted better from the Eisch glasses, I have no idea because once the wine is in
the mouth, swirled around, and swallowed, it should make no difference,
especially considering the importance of the retro nasal aspects of wine
In the past, there have been all sorts of “snake oil” sales pitches that have
been made in relation to a wine improvement products, one of the most well-known
being the use of a proprietary magnetic product which will instantaneously age
wine. As we all know, there is absolutely no basis in fact to these claims, and
I would put some of the claims made by this manufacturer in the same category.
Basically I don't believe them.
© Ric Einstein 2007