Today I picked up my new Riedel beer glass from the Riedel glass boutique at SOGO Dept. store in Yokohama. I actually didn't plan on doing this today, but as fate would have it, I wound up on the fourth floor at this boutique. I'm still scratching my head as to how I got there.
Along with drinking good sake(nihonshu), I also love good beer and wine. I have always loved them. I've just been on a hiatus for awhile. Reason being, there's just too much good sake to drink and I only have one mouth and one overworked and underpaid liver to spare.
The Riedel story goes back generations. It's one of the, if not the finest wine glassware makers in the world and has been since it made its big splash in 1958 at the world exhibition in Brussels in which at that time was awarded with a "Grand Prix" for its creative and striking design. It has continued this legacy of excellence even still to this day as being the hallmark of wine glass making in the modern Western world.
As the company slogan goes " Shape Matters!" I believe that with every good drink deserves a good vessel to drink it from. The glass is merely the vessel which serves to enhance the drinking experience. Here in Japan, the Japanese are also quite fond of their drinking vessels, even as far back as antiquity. Drinking good sake requires either stoneware, wood ware, and nowadays even glassware because there's a wine boom going on now over here. Japanese palates are becoming more sophisticated.
In this short video you can witness me drinking a fine beer. Notice at how the bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass. Look at the shape, the size, and the design. Plenty of room for the nose. This cup was masterfully designed just for beer. I can't put the glass down, it's because it feels good in my hand. She's beautiful.
Take a look at this pic:
This is the latest and greatest in beer in Japan now. It's called Coedo over at coedobrewery.com. The site's in both English and Japanese so you can enjoy. The beer's good, the glass is better. I added this picture for contrast.
This year, 2010, Japan's beverage industry is being presented with newer and more demanding challenges. Sake, beer, and wine are competing against each other because of consumer trends which have changed considerable in the last decade whereby more and more Japanese are opting for beer rather than Japanese sake; others wine.
In order for many of these old breweries to survive they have to look for ways to merge its age old and venerated national drink in order to cater to Western palates and tastes. Some are experimenting with drinking vessels, others with traditional Japanese drinking vessels, different and unique sake, food, cheese,..etc. In North America, Canadian based sake brewers are reinventing sake in ways that appeal to a broader range of demands by doing things to sake unthinkable in the motherland, yet have turned out to be fantastic.
Things have certainly changed. The drinking vessel will be a part of that change, it will be one of the elements that define the way in which we drink here and Japan and in other countries.