250 years and 11 generations of very creative and enterprising people made Riedel Crystal one of the most sought-after grape varietal specific wine glass companies all over the world. But the family’s history of being involved in glass production and trading started with Johann Christoph Riedel (1763-1723) who traded glass items all over Europe. However, it was in the management of Walter Riedel (1895-11974) and 8th generation glass genius of the family that the company started to gain prestige as the leading manufacturer of glass jewelry and crystalware. Even after the war, the family company continued to flourish with the help of the Swarovski family that they returned to Austria after being in Czechoslovakia for a long time and started making hand-blown glassworks.
The real breakthrough for the company that shaped their future, though, was the genius of the 9th generation Riedel, Claus Josef (1925-2004). He decided to break away from the traditional colored and cut glass to make plain, thin, stemmed wine glasses. The “Sommeliers” became the trademark design of Claus which was the first line of varietal-specific wine glasses.
Even before he ascended to leadership, the present CEO and president of Riedel Crystal in 2013, Maximilian Josef, 11th generation Riedel, worked on the stemless “O” glassware series which revolutionized the way we look at wine glasses. In fact, it was during the years prior to his present position that he brought so much honor to the company with the prestigious awards that the company and the “O series” have amassed from 2005-2011.
Is Riedel crystal or glass?
Depending on the glass you are asking for but that’s both yes and no.
The more costly series of Riedel, such as the Sommelier, Vitis, Vinum, Vinum Extreme, and Vinum XL and the Wine series are made of crystal. The Sommelier Series are all handcrafted and mouth-blown crystal from Austria. The Vitis, Venum and Wine series are all machine-blown crystal wine glasses made in Germany.
For those who are concerned about lead in crystal glasses, Riedel no longer sells lead crystal glasses. To achieve the same brilliance and luster of the lead crystal, they opted borosilicate. They are very transparent about the kind of glasses, they put into the market, conducting their own research and testing procedures to achieve the best quality for their glasses.
The non-crystal wine glasses are the stemless O series and the long-stemmed Restaurant Degustazione, Restaurant Riedel, Restaurant XL, Restaurant O, and Restaurant Swirl. The non-crystal wine glasses were all designed using the same craftsmanship and genius as the crystal wine glasses. They were made sturdy to withstand the busy and demanding restaurant environment. Unfortunately, the Restaurant series is available only for food service and restaurant clients. The O series, on the other hand, can be enjoyed at home as it is available in individual and sets.
Riedel glasses, depending on the series and the price range make both crystal and non-crystal wine glasses. It is worthy to note, though, that the crystal glasses are not lead crystal. Instead, they use borosilicate that is non-toxic and is heat-resistant. It also doesn’t crack easily, making it a sturdy everyday wine glass.
If ever your glasses get broken or even if you just need some glamming up old wine glasses, check out this article.