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A Touch of Glass

For this week’s article I decided to stay with the November issue of Restaurant Startup and Growth, because they had good article about how to go about picking the right type of wine glass for your restaurant. The article brings up all of the different things that we need to consider when it comes to selecting wine glasses, everything from the type of wine being used and if you honestly need a wine glass with a stem.  While the article is mainly talking about wine glasses the information they talk about doesn’t just reflect wine glasses but how to go about sourcing and selecting all of your glassware.

One of the first things that the article talks about is, knowing who your customers are, and what your restaurant is trying to be. Until you know what the answers to both of these questions are you can’t make the right choice when it comes to your glassware. Think about it like this if you are trying to be a four star restaurant then you are going to need a different wine glass for each of your wines because your customers are more than likely going to know a bit about wine. On the other side of the coin, if you are trying to be a casual dining restaurant then you could get away with one or two styles of wine glasses. The fact is that there are enough factors to consider when it comes to selecting the type of wine glasses that without some consideration to what your restaurant is going to be you can’t make the correct choice.

The article give a layout of how to go about deciding if you are going to need a wine glass for every varietal of wine that you serve or if you only need two or three different glasses. They present arguments for and against picking different bowl styles and if you honestly need a stem. The article argues that you don’t need a stem for red wine as holding the glass in your hand will warm the wine and help keep it the right temperature; while a stem-less wine glass would actually “hurt” the temperature of a white wine. Another aspect that they talk about is your overall space consideration for storing the glasses safely when not in use, and how much it would cost you to replace the glasses when they break. When you are potentially going to spend $8-$12 dollars per glass this could be a big issues. Today the type of wine glass you pick isn’t so much about the stem itself but the lines the glass holds. The article ask that you consider the curvature, feel in the hand, and lip thickness, as all of these things are going to have an impact on the glasses you pick.

Without getting into if you should buy crystal or glass, the real question is to bead or not to bead. Beaded lips are less expensive but are also generally of a lower quality. The bead is on the lip of the glass to help keep it from chipping or breaking. This once again comes back to the question of if your guest is going to know the difference, the guest who doesn’t know or care much about wine isn’t going to notice that the lip has a bead, but the wine snob is going to judge you all the harder because of the bead.

Regardless of what type of wine glass you end up going with the next thing the article talks about is that you also need to have the right glass rack, both for storage and for washing your glasses.  Anyone who has worked in a restaurant has seen the effects of glasses washed in the wrong sized rack, but more than this the article actually recommends that you let your glasses rest after two turns around the restaurant, so that they don’t get thermal shock. How a busy restaurant is going to keep track of the number of times a glass has gone into the dishwasher each night is beyond me.

Glassware companies will tell you that the shape of the glass and the quality of the crystal will actually make a difference in the flavor and taste of the wine. I honestly wouldn’t know if this is true or not but the article has Rudy Miick who runs a restaurant consultant firm out of Boulder Colorado affirming that he can taste a difference and that it’s not just for high priced wines but even the “cheaper” wines will benefit from this trick. Quality of the crystal aside, what is really important is that size does matter. Related to this is the question of filling a wine glass to the rim. If you have a customer who doesn’t know about wine they are going to be happy that they have a full glass of wine, but in reality this doesn’t give the wine room to breathe, or room to swirl the wine so you can smell the aromas. This is going to be a double edge sword because if you are using a 16oz wine glass and only pouring 6oz into it you are going to thrill the wine snob, but to the person who doesn’t know about wine you just ripped them off.

What all of this really comes down to is your restaurants brand or image, while I might not be ruined by having the wrong wine glass, it couldn’t hurt to put some thought into what you are going to buy. The article itself is a bit on the fun side but it makes a few good points that might be overlooked when opening a new restaurant. While you are never going to know if the person ordering a glass of wine is knowledgeable about wine or not if you make a few good choices you can help your brand and image just that little bit more. In our industry every little bit counts and sometimes it can make all the difference.



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2 Comments on “A Touch of Glass”

  1. Grandma April 17, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Grant, I love this article as to me it is very important what kind of glass I am served my wine. Important to me is the feel in my hand and also on the lips, and also don’t like getting just a drop in my glass I want to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

    • Grant Klover April 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes the “experts” they use in these articles make me question why they are experts. I can understand using a little bit bigger wine glass so that you have room to swirl the wine but if you use a 16oz wine glass that is 10oz of air and I think most people are going to feel like they are getting ripped off.

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