Riedel shatters the peace and threatens blogger

“Hell, I thought,” Georg explains, “people think the shape of the goddam wine bottle is significant, why not the shape of the glass? I know I can convince wealthy wine drinkers that it matters, that’s easy. And from there, the unwashed public will follow.”

riedel_shatterDo you really think that is something that Georg Riedel, the Austrian who pioneered matching the shape of glassware with different grape varieties would say? Um, I don’t. The quote was from a satirical piece by Ron Washam, aka The Hosemaster posted earlier this week. Your mileage may vary with the piece, but apparently Riedel was none-too-amused about it and his mood shattered faster than a crystal glass. The Goliath of stemware then directed some American attorneys to send a threatening takedown letter to the blogger! (read the letter)

I’m not a lawyer. But I guess Riedel would have to prove that this posting on August 3 damaged his business? Good luck with that. Frankly, I think the letter will actually attract much more attention to the original post. Further, it could draw ill-will from wine thought-leaders, be they writers or sommeliers or retailers. Or even the unwashed public, to borrow hosemaster’s term, if the word about this spreads. What if there were pushback against Riedel–not over the satire, but over Georg’s heavy-handed response? That is not an implausible scenario and would be a PR disaster for the company, much more so than the original post, which probably only Georg took seriously. (It reminds me of those people who are fooled by The Onion stories…)

What do you think: considering this incident, will you be ordering more Riedel glasses any time soon?

Blech. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Viva Zalto!

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10 Responses to “Riedel shatters the peace and threatens blogger”

  1. i’m switching to spieglau if they are so effing lawyer driven

  2. Sorry Sam, but Spieglau is also owned by Riedel, as is Nachtmann. They are the 800 pound gorilla and they like to throw their weight around. Just ask any of the other wineglass companies.

    I think this is a PR blunder on their part, but I doubt it will affect their business much. They have market share and penetration.

  3. Ahh the old anger, switch and sell tactic!

    Outrage people by not having a sense of humor, and get them to switch from your product to….your other, cheaper product they did not know you own!

    Spieglau is indeed owned by Riedel (rhymes with needle, which is apparently what Washam did to Georg).

    I like telling people that the stemless glasses were invented because his son’s cabinets in his Parisian Summer apartment were not tall enough to hold real wine glasses….”papa, can you help me?”.

  4. I’ve read the original satire piece, plus the New Yorker piece about Max Riedel’s visit to NY (which in my eyes that was more defamatory than the satire). I do think that sommeliers should also consider a class action defamation suit against The Hosemaster.
    I do own a set of ordinary Riedel glasses (plus a Spieglau set), which I use all the time, but all of this makes me reluctant to ever buy another Riedel (or Spieglau) glass. Unless, that is, they come out with a Jurancon glass

  5. I just received an order of Riedel extreme cab glasses, and I just broke a Riedel pinot glass. I don’t think that Austrians are known for their senses of humor, and I didn’t know that Ron Washam was still around.

  6. Well, we were a Spieglau household until our local wine shop started selling a wide variety of Schott Zwiesel with Tritan Crystal. Breakage is way down and we’ve been happy with them.

  7. Riedel is overly sensitive for a reason: He has never been able to prove his glasses are any better than anyone else’s, as described in a post from 2009:


  8. […] community started speaking up – and hasn’t stopped since. Fellow bloggers like Dr. Vino (“Riedel shatters the peace and threatens blogger”) and 1WineDude (“Apparently ‘Riedel’ Is Actually Pronounced ‘A**hole‘) […]

  9. I am surprised people are surprised Riedel got the hump. I have never read the Hosemaster (he’s not very funny actually) but even if we accept that most of what he writes is satirical, the piece wax posted on Tim Atkin’s blog with no indication that it was a piss take (such as “I dreamt last night I was sharing a bottle of Chateau Petrus with Georg Riedel and he was getting utterly shitfaced”), hence Tim’s subsequent and very apologetic disclaimer. No magazine would have run that piece, at least n UK magazine.

  10. It took me about 4 lines of reading to realize it was satirical. Although that really was too much. I should have known it after the first line.


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