Hannes Richter

Claus Josef Riedel (1925-2004)

Hannes Richter

Claus Josef Riedel, the former president of Riedel Crystal was one of the first in his age-old craft to realize that the design of a wineglass could alter the perception of how its contents tasted, died in Genoa, Italy, at the age of 79. A ninth generation glassmaker, Mr. Riedel was president of the world-renowned Austrian family company from 1957 to 1994. After having spent 16 years in studying the physics of wine delivery to the mouth and taste buds and experimenting with different glass configurations, Riedel came to an important result.

The size of a glass, its thickness, the shape of its bell and the diameter of its rim contributed materially to the taste of the wine drunk from it. The wine's balance, depth, harmony and complexity, he discovered, could and often did change from one glass to another. When Riedel was told that the glasses he created would have limited market appeal, he said: "Aesthetics and excellence are my criteria, not mere convenience."

The first wine-specific Riedel glasses, the Sommeliers Collection, was introduced in 1973. Besides his son Georg, who succeeded his father as the president of the family company in 1994, Claus Riedel leaves his wife Ute, another son, a daughter and three grandchildren.