The Perfect Steware for the Right Wine Part II – Orange Wine

You may already possess the ideal Pinot, Chardonnay or Cabernet glass but is your wine cabinet lacking the perfect glass for Orange Wine? You may not have even known you needed such a thing, well some of us have done some extensive research on your behalf in case you do. My friend Clive Platman tasted, scored and reported on the experience of tasting Orange wine in a variety of wine glass styles, over three rounds and with a nail-biting finish.

Tbilvino Qvevris 2017 DO Kakheti Georgia (12% abv)

 

Provenance

A Georgian Orange wine, made from the white Rkatsiteli grape.  The juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in large amphora  – clay jars known as Qvevri which are buried in the ground. The wine is then left for a period of several months. This version from Marks & Spencer is not a full-blown Orange Wine that are more of a coppery bronze hue.  The clue may be in the word “partially”, so clearly a  portion of the final blend is probably made conventionally. The Rkatsiteli grape is widespread in Georgia and, in this Orange Wine, has the following constituents:

Colour

 Straw gold, with a copper glint.

Aroma

 Some quince pear

Characteristics

 – Quite acidic, fully dry, but also tannic/astringent, due to prolonged skin content.

– The flavour is predominantly quince-pear, sometimes with pear-drops.

– It can develop a creamy broader texture, and the fruit can become quite sweet.

– It can also develop a powerful and overwhelming bitter note.

The wine was tasted in 10 different white wine glasses, which are set out in two tiers.

Row 1 shows glasses 1-5, from left to right;  Row 2 shows glasses 6-10 from left to right

 Round 1:

  1. Spiegelau Prosecco

 A stumpier version of a champagne flute, that’s a little wider and shorter.  Can serve as an excellent tasting glass for sherry.

Faint pear bouquet.  Acidic, bone-dry, quince pear fruit.  Firm and tannic.  Gives the dryness of a very light fino sherry.  Moderate length.  (2/5)

  1. John Lewis Croft Collection “Swan” white wine glass

 This has a wide “midriff” with exaggerated angles.  I use this as a champagne flute.

Better definition of the pear fruit.  The tannins are softer and more integrated, and the fruit sweeter.  This actually makes the wine taste pleasant. (4/5)

  1. Riedel Extreme – Sauternes

 Again, aggressively angled top and bottom, off a wide midriff.

No bouquet, no fruit.  Tannic, tight and harsh. (1/5)

  1. Riedel “Events” tasting glass

 An upright glass, with curved sides.  Ideal for a glass of port or sherry. 

No aroma, no fruit and really bitter.  Unpleasant. (0/5)

  1. Riedel Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc

 A classic white tasting glass with a narrow delivery onto the tongue.  A standard tasting glass.

Little aroma, and not much fruit character either.  A tad more integrated and less harsh, but the bitter note makes this difficult to enjoy. (1/5)

  1. Riedel Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc – stemless with flat base

 As above, but with a wide and flat base, to make the glass more stable.  Good for picnics and dining al fresco.

No character whatsoever, and very bitter to boot.  Unpleasant. (0/5)

  1. Riedel Riesling Extreme

 A larger bowl with a wider base curving inwards.

Some positive quince-pear fruit, but with pear-drops and followed by a bitter note.  Still tannic, but more integrated, and a better length of finish. (3/5)

  1. Michelangelo White wine glass

 Conventional  White Tulip. 

Sweet quince pear and apricot, with a note of pear-drops.  Nevertheless, quite harmonious and integrated, and the tannins are far less prominent.  The finish was sweet, with a hint of toffee.  Much more successful. (4/5)

  1. “Natalie” Beaujolais

The roundish globe profile makes this ideal for Chardonnay.

Very soft and easy, with distinctive sweet pear fruit.  No harshness and barely discernible tannins, with a very pleasing length.  Brings out qualities which I didn’t think were there. (4/5)

  1. Riedel Extreme Chardonnay

 Very shallow and wide profile. Recommended glass for mature New World Chardonnay and low acid wines from hotter climes.

There might be a hint of pear-fruit, but tannins and bitterness reign supreme.  No great character and a disastrous choice. (1/5)

At the end of Round 1, Glasses 1,3,4,5,6, and 10 were eliminated.

Semi-Finals:  Glasses 2,7,8 and 9 remain.

 

The Semi-Finalists

Round 2:

Glass 2: John Lewis Croft Collection “Swan” white wine glass

Again, a positive aroma, with quince fruit flavours.  Sweetness of the fruit comes through, but still tannic.  Develops cream and the overall balance is good. (4/5)

Glass 7: Riedel Riesling Extreme

 Less fruit, more tannin and bitter. (2/5)

Glass 8: Michelangelo White wine glass

Pronounced quince fruit, with a back note of pear drops. Very harmonious and integrated, quite soft, with a hint of bitterness on the finish.  Nicely rounded. (4/5)

Glass 9: “Natalie” Beaujolais

Good statement of fruit and cream.  No harsh notes.  Pleasing and rich, with great length. (4/5)

Eliminated:  Glass 7 

 

The Two Remaining Finalists

 Final Taste-off – Glasses 2,8 and 9

 Glass 2: John Lewis Croft Collection “Swan” white wine glass

 In the final taste-off, this didn’t compare as well.  Bouquet not as positive, but harsher tannic elements were also more prominent.

Glass 8: Michelangelo White wine glass

 Again, a lovely quince-pear fruit statement, with a hint of supporting tannin.  Although dry, there was sweetness on the fruit, developing a creamy, silky finish.  This had more tannin and structure than Glass 9. (4/5)

Glass 9: “Natalie” Beaujolais

Really good fruit statement, with sweet quince-pear fruit, developing cream.  The tannins were subdued, and the texture quite soft and silky, with a moderately lingering finish. (4+/5)

 

*Glass 9 “Natalie” Beaujolais declared the winner*

 SUMMARY

The final result came as a complete surprise.  Orange wine can often have a sherry-like oxidative character and, therefore, my inclination would have been to choose stemware which was ideal for sherry.  On this occasion nothing could have been further from the truth, as virtually the entire front row was eliminated in one fell swoop!

By diminishing the fruit and emphasising tannins, the classic wine glasses for Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc also fell by the wayside,  but, at the other extreme, the New World Chardonnay was equally as hapless.

Although Glass 2 was a contender at one stage, it was easily eclipsed by Glasses 8 and 9, and out of the two, I preferred Glass 9.  The overall effect was softer, more rounded and creamier, but both had an equally good fruit statement.  Ultimately, it imbued the wine with characteristics similar to a Loire Chenin Blanc from Anjou.

So there you have it …. The definitive glass for an Orange Wine is a Natalie Beaujolais!

Text and photos by Clive Platman, former writer for The Birmingham Post. 21/04/2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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