Photograph by Brent Murray/BloombergCoca-Cola (KO) is a drink often sucked up greedily from a giant paper cup, but Georg Riedel is the type of aficionado who believes the right glass can refine the flavor of any drink. Such claims can only be expected from the owner of Riedel, an Austrian company that makes tailored glasses for specific varieties of wines and spirits. Now Mr. Riedel is taking his glassware philosophy to new territory: nonalcoholic beverages. He’s going big, too, starting with the most iconic beverage brand: Coca-Cola.
Whether pinot noir actually tastes better from a pinot noir glass—and merlot, and so on—is debatable (it’s certainly a handy claim for a glassmaker), but there are enough meticulous imbibers in the world that Riedel sells 55 million pieces across its three brands each year. The company recently started dabbling in glasses for specific craft beers, too, but Mr. Riedel says it’s long been his dream to market a Coca-Cola glass. “I would say this is, for me in my career, the most exciting project,” he says.
The new Coca-Cola glass is designed to ensure the right balance, which in Coke means “sweetness, acidity, minerality, and effervescence,” according to Riedel. The bubbles stay longer on the palate. “The finish,” he claims, “is much longer” compared with drinking from a normal glass, and the aroma is more intense. Add that to your tasting notes. The glass is designed and tested for regular Coca-Cola (not diet)—Pepsi (PEP) fans use at your own risk.
Coca-Cola asked the company to make a new glass last February. Riedel now has a licensing deal with the soda company, the first time Riedel has worked with a booze-free brand. With wine glass sales slowing in Europe, Riedel sees glassware for nonalcoholic beverages as an untapped opportunity.
Beyond soda, Riedel envisions a future in which the company will make specific cups for hot beverages, too, such as coffee and tea—other drinks that can appeal to everyone rather than just those over 21. “We will talk to a new customer group which is much younger and be able—in places where alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be consumed—to have a standing, an item we can offer,” he says.
The glasses—already in stores—sell in sets of two for $29.90, and the first run will be 80,000 pieces.