Top 12 restaurant wine gripes

Dodgy glassware

To order a good wine and then have it served in an inappropriately shaped glass – such as the hopeless little bistro-type glasses pictured right – is akin owning a musical masterpiece and playing it through a smartphone speaker. It’s also an insult to the winemaker. The whole point of the bowl section of a wine glass (apart from containing the liquid, of course) is to capture the aroma, which is absolutely central to the enjoyment of the wine.

A generous bowl and a considerably less than full glass will allow you to swirl the wine and release its, hopefully, delicious and mercurial aromas prior to drinking it. It needn’t be complicated, and faddishness is not to be encouraged (one respondent had very little time for those ‘unspillable’ stemless numbers that roll around the table). Of course, some glassware companies take the idea of glass specificity to extremes, and much of that is nonsense, but there is some logic to having different glasses for different types of wine – Zalto’s range have become de rigueur in London’s top restaurants – there certainly seems to be a correlation between restaurants using them and very good wine experiences. What you don’t want to see when you sit down dine at a restaurant is any sort of wine glass that fails to take into account the effect the bowl has on the enjoyment of the wine.


2 Responses to “Top 12 restaurant wine gripes”

  1. pippa Hayward says:

    From a former restaurateur/sommelier (albeit with a reputation for a fairly priced and well chosen list) –
    yes the wine has to contribute to the restaurant’s running costs -which in the Uk and in stand alone restaurants without the benefit of the large margin you can make on room sales – are considerably higher than mainland Europe. If restaurants excused wine from contributing to running costs menus and food prices would have to rise to make the shortfall up . This is not rocket science.
    There is perception amongst some customers that restaurants don’t add any value to wine(in the way that a chef does to ingredients) but a good wine recommendation can make a meal
    Restaurants do have a duty of care to their customers and wines – to provide a carefully chosen selection, sold in a helpful , informative and kindly way with the sensitivity to make the right recommendation in style and budget for every client. Sommeliers are highly trained professionals -customers should expect to pay for their advice as part of wine pricing.
    Our own decision to make a far smaller margin on more expensive wines ensured that we sold those wines and that customers felt they were treated fairly .

    Then there is the question of training – restaurant staff should be taught how to serve wine correctly , not overfill glasses and be aware of the correct temperature -it’s simply part of good service .

  2. Jack Keenan says:

    I find that when I am presented with a bottle of white wine in a fine restaurant, and I taste and approve the wine and the vintage it is invariably too cold. The sommelier then begins to put the bottle in a bucket of ice or a “cold tube.” I say “No!, please it is too cold just leave it on the table.” The sommeliers invariably then say “thank goodness, you know wine…we hate to put it on ice, but most patrons insist!”

    Cold is the enemy of flavour!

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