November 10, 2014

An Official Wine Glass for Obeideh Grapes

This is a special review, one that's unique of its kind, one that combines three big entities. One would be Lebanon and its famous Obeidy wine. The second would be Riedel, the wine glass giant, and the third is Wardy, a famous local wine producer who has recently launched an Obeidy white wine.


Standing before nine glasses of wine from Riedel and a handful of bottles of white wine, Philippe Guillon opened up the tasting at Nicolas, the latest wine shop to open in Beirut on Abdel Wahab Street. That day, eleven wine connoisseurs had one aim: To choose the official glass for Obeidy wine. Obeid is a grape variety, one of the oldest in the world, usually used to produce Arak.

Riedel wine glasses: These products are grape-varietal specific. Using them correctly will prove they are not simply glasses, but tools for wine enjoyment. Claus J. Riedel was the first designer to recognize that the bouquet, taste, balance and finish of wines are affected by the shape of the glass from which they are consumed. More than 50 years ago he began his pioneering work to create the SOMMELIERS series, that would match and complement different wines and spirits. In the late 1950s, RIEDEL started to produce glasses which at that time were a design revolution. Thin-blown, unadorned, reducing the design to its essence: bowl, stem, base.

The challenge today was to find the appropriate glass to taste Obeideh.


Obeideh grape variety:

  • Lebanon’s native white, the Obeideh, which until now has been used mainly in the production of arak, is, by popular demand, elbowing its way to the front of the nation’s wine consciousness, demanding to be recognized as the country’s signature grape.
  • Elegant and understated, the Obeideh is biscuity, faintly floral, and can deliver lots of ‘fat’ in the mouth. Combined with fruitier grapes, there is a restrained intensity and a surprising complexity that can set it apart from many easy drinking wines. Can it age? Just ask Hochar, whose 2005 white is the youngest on the market.

Domaine Wardy has highlighted this emblematic, indigenous Lebanese variety, by creating this single varietal limited edition wine made of 100% Obeidy aged in oak for 12 months. Its minerality reminds us of the richness and diversity of the Lebanese terroir, with its notes of dried apricots, white melons and an ashy finish. Only 1200 bottles were produced.

A few recommendations:

  • Let all three senses be your guide
  • The last sense you want to use is eyesight
  • Use the nose to feel the aromas
  • Use the palate to feel the flavor

Each person was given a bottle and asked to pour simultaneously. A table of a hundred glasses which were all filled with white wine; a beautiful set of interesting colors.

Presentation of the Obeidy:

  • One of the oldest grapes on earth
  • Fermented in stainless steel
  • Elevated in wooden barrels
  • Known for low alcoholic levels
  • Purely Lebanese
  • Used for arak
  • The vines were planted 35 years ago in a clay soil

The different glasses:

  • 1: Degustation glass made for Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2: Not a grape-specific wine. Ouverture for red wine
  • 3: Morache: Chardonnay, oak aged. Boosts acidity in the wine
  • 4: Made for Riesling. XL restaurant 
  • 5: Made for Bordeaux 
  • 6: Degustation only, sold to professionals, not grape specific, for red wine
  • 7: Pinot noir, Burgundy red.
  • 8: Viognier.
  • 9: Syra wine. Versatile glass shape


I personally chose to start by feeling the aromas, one glass after the other before moving to the tasting. One after the other, I finally chose to leave four glasses behind and focus on the others, which I believe put those wines up front:

Number nine, which is a glass for white wine, number two, which isn’t a glass for a specific wine, but surely for red varieties, number seven, which is for a red wine but works great with the Obeidy despite its large mouth, number six, a great glass for tasting, and finally, number four, a glass made for Riesling. Later, I narrowed my choice to four glasses.

My selection after the first round:

  • 7: 454/07: Starts with the aromatic freshness, a fresh feel, no acidity and final enjoyable note of fruits. Strong nose retaining the aromas.
  • 2: 480/90: Correct, fewer aromas, easy to handle
  • 9: 6416/30: Fresh, non acidic but lacks a bit of fruitiness
  • 6: 489/0: My favorite of the four, and I believed it could win

Following the generalvoting, four glasses got the highest grades, so we repeated the tasting.

On the second round we had to choose between glasses #one, #four, #six and #seven, the wines getting the highest grades. I personally chose six, the most aromatic and the one showing the real freshness and fruitiness. #Four got the most votes for its ability to show the mineralogy of the wine.

Yes, #4 (447/15) won the tasting contest. That's a Riesling glass by Riedel.

Today, the best glass to taste a Obeideh wine, would be a Riesling glass.





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