The contour of the classic Coca-Cola glass bottle is absolutely iconic. It was created in 1915 by a glass manufacturer in Indiana, and chosen by Coca-Cola because its distinctive curves wouldn’t be confused with competitors. The bottle was not, however, designed specifically for Coca-Cola’s flavor profile, and today the soda maker has set out to remedy that oversight.
In a seemingly unlikely partnership, wine glassmaker Riedel has collaborated with Coca-Cola to craft a glass specifically meant for enjoying the sugary beverage.
Austria-based Riedel makes the kind of ultra-specific wine glasses (one for a Bordeaux, one for a Cabernet, one for a Pinot Noir, and so on) that are used by sommeliers to detect obscure notes of blackberries or nutmeg in wine. So how does a Coke taste from the newly minted Coca-Cola + Riedel glass?
“This glass starts with the introduction of the aromas, beautiful lemon, citrus, lime character, malt characteristics, the mouth feel, the effervescence,” CEO Georg Riedel says. “The glass orchestrates the sweetness on the palate.” (A few Co.Designers gave the glasses a try, and were hard pressed to come up with a description nearly as elaborate. But then again, we’re not on Coca-Cola’s tasting panel in Atlanta.)
The creation of all Riedel glasses begins with a sensory workshop. Along with Coca-Cola’s expert tasting panel, there were about 30 people from Coke’s PR and marketing departments, as well as tasting experts in the wine and beer industry. The group tasted from 18 different Riedel glasses prototyped for the collaboration. Initially, Riedel admits, he had no clue how a Coca-Cola should taste. “But I know how a vessel can influence the various nuances,” Riedel tells Co.Design. “There was one where I thought, this works best. If I could select a glass this would be my favorite.” That glass was chosen, Riedel says, democratically.
Despite the laboratory-like methods and taste panels, the point of the collaboration was, in part, about nostalgia: Riedel says he was first introduced to Coca-Cola in 1953 at the age of four, when he received 12 bottles of Coca-Cola as a birthday gift. “Only eight years ago had gone by since World War II had ended,” he says. “Sweetness was not something that was available on a daily basis.”
And at the end of the day, isn’t that sweet kind of memory what Coca-Cola has always said it’s about?