The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 39 of 140

GLASSWARE Riedel Me This R iedel produces 50 million glasses annually, employing 1,300 people globally. Their high-end Sommelier Series, first launched in 1973 (though it was 1958 when the first hand-blown Burgundy minute and six seconds, while the actual making of the thin glass stem itself takes a mere ten seconds. Finally, the molten footplate, a red and orange blob of heat and glass, needs about ten seconds to be molded into a proper foot to rest on your table. Overall, I timed three minutes and 25 seconds on average to craft a Sommelier Series glass. The work is in constant motion, and Riedel's ballet-like choreography continues unabated. At the Riedel factory, the footplate of the glass is added last, then molded. Grand Cru was crafted) is the only stem- ware made by hand at their factory. Though Riedel has been making glass since 1756 in Bohemia, the company relocated their factory to Austria in 1958, where today it is a marvel of technology and tradition. From a second floor platform, I am able to view the hand-blowing of the glasses. It's an exacting process, with a team of 50 workers wearing shorts, with some donning sun- glasses and gloves to withstand the searing heat billowing out of multiple ovens. Every glass is originally conceived using local ubiquitous pear wood as a prototype mold, before the final mold is made of steel to deal with the constant abuse and heat. I am allowed on the floor with the workers, and one of them, his shirt half unbuttoned and wearing sunglasses, grabs my arm and pulls me directly to the searing 1600-degree ovens. I am three feet in front of the gleaming orange hot abyss, and I begin to perspire immediately, my breath- ing impeded by the overwhelming heat. Pulling the liquid silica out of the fire and blowing the glass into the mold takes about 55 seconds. The resulting bowl is then heated on one end in order to attach the stem; that process will take about one november 2012 / the tasting panel / 39 MICHAEL CERVIN EXPLAINS THE GLASS-MAKING PROCESS OF THE SOMMELIER SERIES FIRST-HAND

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