Do Riedel glasses really make a difference?
The size, shape and construction of a wine glass does affect how you perceive the wine, both in its aroma and flavour profile and also mouthfeel. And since all wines are not the same in terms of their attributes, style and flavour, there is no one perfect wine glass which will show off every style of wine equally.
Some wines need a larger bowl to show off their complex aromas, others will fare better in a smaller glass, some benefit from a glass lip that flares out a bit, while others show better with a wine glass lip that curves in a bit.
All Riedel glasses are born out of comparative tasting sessions (rather than on a drawing board), where a panel of judges vote on what shape they consider performs the best. Expert winemakers and sommeliers carefully analyse the experience of drinking wine in different shapes of glasses.
Varietal-specific glasses are designed with three variables: shape, size and rim diameter, all of which affect the bouquet, texture, flavour and finish of the wine. Depending on how close or far your nose is from the wine itself, you will taste the wine differently. Depending on how narrow or wide the rim of the glass is, will affect the aromatics of the wine and then its flavour. For me, the most dramatic evidence of the importance of glass size and shape is drinking a Sauvignon Blanc out of a large "Oaked Chardonnay" glass, you can barely taste it. The same wine out of a much smaller, appropriately shaped bowl comes to life with bright, fresh citrus and green apple flavours.