What does Coca-Cola have in common with chardonnay, cabernet and champagne?

Riedel Crystal, a 260-year-old custom glassmaker known throughout the wine world for its varietal-specific stemware and decanters, has released a glass designed to unfurl Coke’s complex flavours, aromas and mouthfeel.  

Georg Ridel

The Coke glass brings to fruition the lifelong dream of Georg Riedel, the 10th generation owner of the Austrian company. On his fourth birthday -- 62 years ago -- his parents bought him a 12-pack of Coca-Cola and it was love at first taste. He savoured every sip, taking great care to make sure the dozen small glass bottles lasted as long as possible.

“World War II was over, but people still were suffering, so to have this sweet taste and effervescence on my palate was a revelation,” Riedel recalled during a phone interview from Napa Valley, Calif.

In 2013, Brad Fields from Coke’s global licensing team approached Riedel about partnering on a specialty glass at a tradeshow in Frankfurt, Germany. Riedel agreed to develop his company’s first-ever glass for a non-alcoholic beverage.

“When I asked Georg who my contact would be for the project, he said, ‘me,’” Fields says. “His passion has been incredible since that very first conversation.

”He adds, “Riedel is the Rolls Royce of the drinkware category. We wanted to create a glass that would remind people of the specialness of drinking a Coca-Cola -- and connect back to the brand’s heritage -- and Riedel was the right partner to make that happen. We knew they would do more than just design a cool glass.

”What Fields is referring to is Riedel’s signature approach to creating high quality, custom glassware that marries together high art and cutting-edge science to produce an exceptional balance between form and function. By engaging in comprehensive tastings, Riedel is able to craft a glass that is perfectly suited to convey not just a particular beverage’s unique taste profile but all the other multi-sensorial aspects of the experience.

Riedel conducted tasting workshops at Coke to inform the glass design. 

In April 2013, a panel of executives and marketers with the most intimate knowledge of Coca-Cola’s flavoursevaluated 18 Riedel prototypes in Atlanta. They unanimously selected the glass that best expressed the complexities of Coca-Cola’s taste profile.

The winning design was inspired by the curves of Coke’s original contour bottle. According to Riedel, the combination of the size and curvature of the “bowl” and its rim diameter unleash Coke’s sweetness, spiciness and “bite, along with its more subtle nuances. He hopes the glass -- which he describes with the lyrical flair of a sommelier -- will invite consumers to appreciate the brand in a new way.

“We are accentuating the aromas and details of Coca-Cola’s fresh lemon character blended with malt, and its sweetness and acidity,” he says. “This glass also tames Coca-Cola’s effervescence, which it shares in common with champagne and parfait, to the point where it lingers beautifully on the palate and produces this amazing freshness.

”Thirsty yet? That’s the idea.

“The effect a glass has on taste is widely underestimated by the public,” he concludes. “Most people see a glass as an aesthetic element on a table, not as an instrument. We hope to change that.”

The Coca-Cola + Riedel glass can be purchased online at the Coca-Cola Store as well as at additional retailers both online and in-stores.