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How Maximilian Riedel Is Spearheading The Next Phase Of Glassware

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By Lucy Cocoran on 31st January 2024

Drinking wine has long been hailed as one of life’s simple pleasures, but Maximilian Riedel would argue that there is nothing simple about it.

For him, enjoying the right wine starts with choosing the right glassware — a concept his family have been building an empire on for the last 265 years.

“Keeping up with wine trends is one thing, but when it comes to glass design, we are setting the trends,” Riedel explains. “I know all my competitors by first name, because there are not many glass producers left.” 

The lack of competition certainly doesn’t speak to a dying industry, but rather an inability to match the level of quality already booming within the sector. Rather than chasing its tail adapting to trends, the creative process is a more considered one, as Riedel explained that varietal wine changes come rarely, if at all. 

“The wine industry is evolving, but it's evolving very slowly, so it's easy to adapt,” he says. “Since we focus on the grape variety instead of the style of wine, there hasn’t been any change. There hasn't been a new grape variety that was developed in the last 4000 years…the only thing that changes is the vineyard, temperature, climate, and the styles of wine — for example, more or less alcohol, or more fruit forward.” 

Despite the lack of change, focusing on varieties yields just as much opportunity for innovation. This is best exemplified in Riedels’ latest launch — a new glass to champion the flavour profile of English sparkling wine. At the beginning of January 2023, Riedel visited wineries across the United Kingdom, where he led wine glass development workshops with twenty five key wine producers from the Hampshire, Kent and Sussex regions. The resulting product is a weightless glass with a 'sparkling point' to aid the formation of the bubbles. 

With a new launch comes fresh excitement and the ability to attract a new clientele.However, , it also invites the opinions of those who might be quick to question the necessity of wine-specific glassware. To some, the concept may sound a little overcomplicated, but handling sceptics is something Riedel  has become well-versed in. So much so, that sometimes he wishes to only face the critics. 

“I love when they change their minds,” he says with a smile. “You can see it in their eyes when they put their nose into one of our glasses —  they can't deny how each wine changes in different shaped glasses.”

Rather than chalk it up to sorcery, Riedel is very literal in the way he explains the effectiveness of the glasses. As he puts it, the brand’s glassware cannot fundamentally change the makeup of the wine, but they can amplify its best features by focusing on the ‘DNA of the grape.’ 

“It sounds very complicated but it’s very simple,” Riedel explains. “What we focus on is the functionality.”

A focus on functionality would be putting it simply, for the Riedel name has not stood the test of time by luck or chance. It is an unwavering desire to innovate and adapt, along with a deep appreciation for the enduring significance of wine, not only as a beverage, but as a way of bringing people together. 

For now, with two children, it is not yet clear if they will follow in the same footsteps as their father, but irrespective of their choice, Maximilian is conscious of the landscape he is carving out for the next iteration of Riedel. 

“I hope that I will leave behind enough opportunities for the next generation to be successful,” he mused.

We’ll toast to that. 

Shop Riedel's entire glassware range here.

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