Max Riedel washes his snake in the bathtub

Recently, at a crystal glass tasting at the Riedel Manhattan showroom, Maximilian Riedel unveiled his latest $500 decanter called “Eve.” It resembles a coiled snake with a two foot protruding shaft. Needless to say, it was mouth blown. “Eve” derives from Adam and Eve; the snake theme came because Riedel was born in 1977, a year of the snake in the Chinese calendar.

He poured the wine from the bottle into the shaft and rolled it around in the double decanting chamber, which he designed and said was patented.

The question arose of how to clean the snake decanter. He said that he cleans his in the bathtub. (He admitted an intercultural faux pas when in Japan the week prior by saying as much to his local audience; apparently taking anything from the kitchen into the bathroom is taboo.) Ah, memories of the Seinfeld scene of Kramer trying to save water by washing lettuce in the shower…

Riedel goes to restaurants, he said, because he wants to be entertained. When dining, he asks to keep the decanter of wine he’s ordered on the table, saying, “I want people to see that I am spending more than $12 on wine!”

More to come about the Riedel taste test. In the interim, Riedel did offer some tips on how to clean Riedel crystal glasses.
* He said he puts his right in the dishwasher.
* If you have the time to hand wash, that works too. He cautioned against washing them the same evening since he said the sink can appear very small and the glass very big.
* For red wine glasses, fill the glass to the top with warm water and soak overnight to remove tannins. Dry with two dish towels, starting with the base, and working up to the balloon. Don’t hold the base while drying the balloon; rather, cup it if you can to avoid separating the stem from the balloon, which could cause a nasty injury.

Related: “Varietal stemware: genius or hucksterism?

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23 Responses to “Max Riedel washes his snake in the bathtub”

  1. Mr. Riedel seems to have a good sense of humor! I appreciated the wit in his tip where “He cautioned against washing them the same evening since he said the sink can appear very small and the glass very big.”
    I say it’s fine to drink wine seriously, just not so seriously that you aren’t enjoying yourself.

  2. hey guys, we ALL wash our snakes in the bathtub, am I right fellas?

  3. Tyler:

    Did Max Riedel pay for your trip to his showroom?

    This really seems like a PR puff piece taken to an absurd limit.

    Who else was present at this exhibition?


  4. Interesting advice on putting your Riedels through the dishwasher. Since far too few of us are named Riedel, we’ll all stick to handwashing Riedels we happen to have very, very carefully. A nice way for him to drive revenues – “sure use the dishwasher… oh it chipped, well we have a special deal for you!”

  5. Joe:

    Stop ragging on the guy because he has a different opinion than you. Having cancer doesn’t give you free rein to self-righteously manifest your insidious brand of asshole meets douchebag.

    You believe in karma? Are you sure you’re not living it?


  6. I stopped purchasing his products when I found that decanters from Ravenscroft and glasses from Stolzle were much more affordable. Riedel products although very nice to look at are over priced. I wonder if Maximilian Riedel has been drinking from his glasses that contain lead too long to notice or maybe he just doesn’t care.

  7. Dear Gary Anonymous:

    Taking money from people you are writing about is not a difference of opinion. Tasting blind or seeing the labels is a difference of opinion.

    Somehow, a general level of corruption has become acceptable in the wine press. I find it scandalous. A free trip, a free meal, a free junket is money placed in the journalist’s pocket, pure and simple.

    It has nothing to do about me having cancer or not having cancer. I do have a Masters in Journalism and know that the ABC of good journalism is that you don’t accept freebies from your sources or the people you are writing about. That was my opinion before I had cancer and remains my opinion.

    It is also the opinion and practice of every reputable journalist.

    Joe Dressner

  8. Riedel glasses are very nice but I prefer the 22 ounce Bordeaux-style Stone Island beauties that I can buy for 9 kuai (about USD1.30) in Beijing. At that price, no worries if I break one or two the night of a tasting…

    Cheers, Boyce

  9. PR puff piece or not, I got a good chuckle out of this one. I doubt Tyler would take money just to let Max show him his snake. You would do that for free, right Doctor?…..

  10. I’ll also say I don’t care about any financial prospects in the piece, there is plenty of contro in the wine world these days.

    So on to lighter matters. I also like Reidel glasses, but I, and several others that I know, have stopped buying because they are simply too breakable. Dishwasher my eye. My wife and I have each broken one while gently handwashing, and a family member broke two when the chinked together sinkside. No, I’ve had enough of that. Shame though, they are nice to drink from.

  11. I’m sure that Riedel really wanted “Max Riedel washes his snake in the bathtub” to be the word that got out about their products. Clearly, Tyler’s post is the finest PR that money can buy… ::rolleyes::

    @Joe Dressner — Not sure where your plainly-obvious hatred of Tyler comes from (I’ll leave it to you two to explain the origins of that one) but this post hardly seems like good evidence for your claim that wine writers are on the take.

    Joe, if you’re an importer, you do tastings, right? Do you charge writers, critics, store owners, distributors, or anyone else for the samples you pour? If not, by your logic, aren’t you bribing them? To which address should I be sending the federales?

    An aside to wine professionals: Reading these posts and comments over the past couple weeks, there is a lot of interesting discussion and room for debate. But I think one lesson is clear. THINK TWICE BEFORE DEALING WITH JOE DRESSNER PROFESSIONALLY. God forbid you have a differing view of the world from you — maybe he’d be harassing you, posting about you online, and just generally being a grade-A a$shole.

    I am already in the habit of checking the back label for the name of the importer when I buy wine. If I see the Dressner name on there, I’ll think twice before buying. There’s a lot of other good wine out there.

  12. Dear Estaban Anonymous:

    If Dr. Tyler wants to accuse other critics of corruption and can document their infractions, then that’s good investigative work.

    What I find objectionable is that he accepts all these handouts himself and claims he is an independent journalist.

    The Riedel piece had nothing newsworthy. Dr. Tyler’s piece reads like PR fluff. Given his willingness to accept hand-outs it makes one wonder.

    I am an importer not a journalist. But I don’t hand out freebies to journalists. The quality of our wines speak for themselves.

    By the way, do you have a last name? What do you do for a living? I love reading hard-hitting criticism on the web from people who don’t leave their last names!

    Joe Dressner

  13. This is the problem with blogs – why can’t you just read the entry for what it is? This isn’t the New York Times – even those publications host blogs now (Asimov’s The Pour). Blogs and national publications are held to different editorial standards, so why keep bringing up this “ABC’s of journalism?” After all, you said yourself that you’re just an importer, not a journalist.

    Anyways, I found the piece interesting. By the way, Joe, I’d like to pose a question…are all the pieces on your various blogs newsworthy? Or do the rules you hold others to not apply to yourself?

  14. Joe, maybe I missed something, but Tyler wasn’t accusing other critics of corruption. Some commenters on this blog were, to be sure, but did Tyler accuse anyone of *corruption*? Tyler accused Miller and Squires of going on sponsored trips in violation of Wine Advocate policy. Others (Dan Posner?) accused Miller of vacationing with (and favorably scoring) Dan Phillips’ wines.

    Joe said: “What I find objectionable is that he accepts all these handouts himself and claims he is an independent journalist.” Unless you are independently wealthy, and can buy all the wine in the world, or have the financial backing of a huge corporation, there’s no way to taste wines or learn about wines without the help of others. Maintaining your independence is tough, but that’s why policies and disclosure are so important. Tyler has a posted policy and has thoughtfully answered questions about it, much like Jancis Robinson did recently. Tyler held Parker’s team up to Parker’s own standard; they failed. Tyler seems to hold up to his own published standard. He just doesn’t hold up to yours.

    Joe’s words, again: “The Riedel piece had nothing newsworthy.” If I want solely news, I read a newspaper. If I want interesting stuff that’s a mix of news, opinion, and silliness, I read a blog. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    Joe proclaims: “I don’t hand out freebies to journalists.” So you have never invited the media to a tasting? Ever?? You have never poured even a thimble of wine for a writer, a critic, a journalist? To be honest, I could care less if you poured your stuff for anyone and everyone. You’re trying to sell wine, you want people to taste it and like it. But if you set the standard so high for others, then you need to be held to it yourself.

    Joe prods: “By the way, do you have a last name? What do you do for a living? I love reading hard-hitting criticism on the web from people who don’t leave their last names!” Why yes, I do have a last name. It’s Spanish. And I do have a career, unrelated to wine, or wine writing, or anything related to wine, though I live 25 minutes from a winery here. I opt not to share details of my life online, as that is my right, and I prefer not to be stalked online by nutjobs or overly aggressive wine importers. If you don’t like being critiqued by people who use their first name alone, then go to the eRobertParker boards, where full name disclosure is required, or communicate solely in person after requiring the counterparty to flash photo ID. Perhaps the latter option would be ideal.

  15. Why the heck can’t we just stick to the story at hand here? I have no issues with ‘discussing other issues’, but at some point, I believe it becomes prudent to take this ‘elsewhere’ – send emails to each other, please.

    The concept of what Joe is asking has become a very valid one in the face of recent discussions – I think it is worth answering . . . but I don’t believe it has much bearing on this piece itself, as others have noted.

    Max will be leading a seminar at Hospice du Rhone later this week and I am looking forward to tasting rhones from around the world out of different riedel glasses . . . should be fun.

    In any event, carry on . . . . but please do so in a civil manner for the rest of us out here!


  16. Q: “Why the heck can’t we just stick to the story at hand here?”
    A: Joe Dressner.

  17. What I don’t understand is why there should be a different standard for “independent” bloggers than for journalists. The point is that the web allows you to self-publish, to become your own journalistic outlet, but the ethics of this self-publishing are not any different than for any other writer. Both the Blogger and a magazine or a newspaper are distributing words in print. The same ethics and rules apply, certainly the same rules of libel and slander apply in a court of law.

    Regarding stemware. I use Ravenscroft and find the quality superb. Ravenscroft does not have budget to run the same type of promotional events as Riedel. A journalist would do comparative pieces on different types of stemware, not just puff pieces on the stemware producer who runs the best promotional events.

  18. Thanks for proving Ben’s point, Joe.

    If “a journalist would do comparative pieces on different types of stemware,” then a quick search of this site for that term, then Tyler is a journalist. He has posted precisely that. Here’s the results page from the search I just did on this site:

    …which includes a post with the title “Varietal stemware: genius or hucksterism?” And another that includes a comparison of different stemware brands.

    Can we move on, please?

  19. Tyler, if all of your “PR puff pieces” are this entertaining, then please keep them coming!!!

    Mr. Dressner, lighten up, lest we all go to your boring self-promoting “blog” and flame you directly. At least Dr. Vino gives us interesting and valuable content and a broad perspective across dozens of brands.

    Your attack on Dr. Vino has convinced me to purposely avoid your imports — not a difficult decision, as there are plenty of other bottles on the shelf to choose from. Congratulations.

  20. I attended an event by Max tonight (I paid to attend- 4 stems included in $60 price)…

    Though I like the stems, I struggled with the presentation. It was more on luxury and fantasy than wine, which judging from the audience, it was probably just what they wanted. Also, no questions were allowed during or after.

    The staff pouring from the snake in the room were having difficulty…

  21. i buy the riedel restaurant series. they cost less ($5/stem), have no lead in them and pop in and out of a dishwasher just fine. I just wish you could buy them retail instead of through a restaurant.

    they can keep the leaded glasses

    A 2QT sized pyrex liquid measuring cup works wonders as a decanter

  22. […] While I am generally all for defending wine consumption in the public eye, I find it difficult to get too worked up about this latest MLB ruling. Clubs decided to forego champagne in favor of cheaper sparkling wine long ago. And while wine producers might want to bask in the aura of victory, what vintner would want to have their wine consumed out of an athletic cup while wearing ski goggles? I mean really, that would make even more people shudder than just Max Riedel! […]

  23. […] amusement caption the one to the right. While we would probably all approve of his generous pours, Max Riedel probably wouldn’t approve of the stemware… window.fbAsyncInit = function() { […]


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