Harried Diner and The Goblet of Wine

Vinted on August 5, 2010 binned in commentary, wine appreciation

Last night, the Dudelette and I tried out a relatively new family-dining-style BYO Italian bistro in our area.  Just about everything at this new-ish joint was very, very good – from the friendly service right on through to the tasty, looks-like-it-just-came-out-of-grandma’s-kitchen pasta.

I say “just about everything” because, as you will see in the inset pic (with apologies from me including crappy-ass cellphone shots here), when I pulled out out BYO wines, the restaurant handed me a nice metal “waiter’s friend” style corkscrew (I want one!), along with two wine “glasses” that looked as though they’d serve better duty as flower vases.

Are those glasses pretty?  You bet.  Are they decent glasses for drinking wine?  No way.

I’m not trying to be a wine snob here (it comes naturally after a while!) – you’re reading the words of someone who regularly tries wines out of small plastic cups at outdoor events (you can take the kid out of Elsmere, but you’ll never take the Elsmere out of the kid, baby!) – but trying to get a sense of a wine and really enjoy it out of these things was just about impossible.  Even our potentially kick-ass dinner wine selections (Matthiasson releases – and we all know those folks know what they’re doing because they’re getting mentioned here on an almost weekly basis now) tasted downright pedestrian from those things.  We probably would have had better luck tasting them from our daughter’s sippy-cup (seen in the background).

For my tastes, those vase-glasses have a rim that’s way to wide and so thick that it dumps the wine into your mouth at a strange angle.  All that pretty carving action? No way to really dig on the wine’s color and clarity through that stuff.  The goblet style shape?  More suitable to specialty beer brews than wine – give me a tulip-shaped glass any day.

Think the Dude doth protest too much?  Had a head-on run-in with restaurant wine glasses?  Shout it out in the comments!






  • UnmitigatedGaul

    If the food tastes like it just came out of grandma’s kitchen, shouldn’t the glasses match?
    Sometimes ya gotta go with the flow, dude. Glassware can be overrated. Maybe our meals should be less about the wine and more about the company?
    Just sayin’.

    • 1WineDude

      Hey UG – good point. I’m with you to a certain extent, as I said I’m no stranger to sippin’ wine from plastic cups. But if you fork out $50 or more for dinner, I think you can expect halfway decent glassware.

  • Richard Scholtz

    I'm with you on this one. Just because you're byob and don't serve wine doesn't mean you shouldn't have a couple dozen of decent stemware. My local store sells a pack of 4 Riedel stems for $36. Surely a restaurant would be able to get them wholesale for cheaper than that.
    I think when a restaurant doesn't care to have acceptable stemware, they don't care about the wine. It would like if this restaurant used canned marinara for their pasta sauces. Just shows a lac of attention to details.
    Did you mention the wine glasses to them? If you don't, it's likely they won't change.

    • 1WineDude

      Hey Richard – I didn't mention the glasses, but probably should have!

      BTW, there is a Riedel restaurant line that is pretty cheap, but not usually available to consumers.


  • Natashya

    Oh no, they are terrible. I would use them for dessert dishes.
    I buy Riedel discontinued glasses. Nothing wrong with them, just older styles at rock bottom prices. I love a thin rim for vino.

    • 1WineDude

      Yeah Natashya – thin stemware FTW!

  • Mel

    I absolutely loathe wine served in a crappy glass. You can't smell anything but alcohol and it's totally not worth it. Might as well order a beer.

    Funny coincidence, that I just blogged about this subject myself a few days ago!

    • 1WineDude

      ACK! Mel – sorry about not linking to that!

      • Mel

        Oh no worries at all! I just thought it was a cool coincidence ;)
        And I don't care if it makes me a snob. I want my wine in a decent glass.

  • Steve Heimoff

    I've had worse. Next time, BYOG! (Hopefully they won't charge extra.)

    • 1WineDude

      Steve, I've got friends who bring their own glasses. I used to tease them about it… not any more!

  • El Jefe

    So, keep a set of two or four decent glasses in the Dudemobile at all times. Be Prepared!

    The restaurant grade Riedels we use in our tasting rooms is Overture Magnum. It's a nice durable glass (meaning you get at least one bounce before it breaks) with a generous bowl, and thin stem and rim. I believe we pay $4 or so in quantity.

    • 1WineDude

      Ah, Scoutmaster El Jefe… very wise advice!

  • Richard Scholtz

    Those Overture glasses are pretty awesome. I've got about a dozen of them, and they are even able to withstand the dishwasher.

    • 1WineDude

      Richard – good call on the Overture glasses… I think those are the stemless models? Actually, I those aren't stemless now that I think about it but… BYOG, finally a good use for the stemless glasses! :)

  • Nick Perdiew

    Great title for the post. I love the comment too. You know, somewhere, someone thought these glasses were just going to be great. And maybe in a place far far away, they were. It's hard to imagine, but heh let's be positive. Dining is a cultural experience.

    I've thought many times about bringing my own glasses to BYOB places, but, even I'm not that much of a wine snob. Nothing wrong with "roughing it" sometimes.

    So, if I'm new here, is there a post about your FAVORITE wine glass somewhere?

  • Kevin Olsen

    Not trying to be a snob and actually being one is a whole different thing… Eat with your family of lovely dudettes/letts, enjoy the food, drink in the moment and though you may have a bit of an offense with said gargantuan wine goblet — buck up! Rather than perpetuate the snobbery that runs deeply through the wine drinking elite, in this case the — OMG, wrong glass — roll with it. Let's not make enjoying wine that much more difficult to get across to newbies and those incredible souls that actually take the leap from Natty Ice to a red or white wine. I have had completely ethereal moments with wine directly out of the bottle (on top of Half Dome in the freezing cold), in styrofoam (watching my dudelettes and dudereenoes playing soccer), in beer cups (hard to remember due to volume), in coffee mugs (on particularly difficult bottling mornings) and even in a camel-back (Mt. Shasta shenanigans) and recommend that you open your mind to the possibility that having a pleasurable experience with wine is more mental than physical. No matter how many Riedel seminars one has attended…

    • 1WineDude

      Kevin – would you drink beer from a sippy cup at dinner? Or go for a nice long run in sandals?

      I get your point but I'm not saying that the glasses ruined my dinner. I'm saying they ruined my *impression of the wine* during dinner…

  • Ashley Routson

    Hey now, I take great insult to the comment on specialty beers. I don't want to put my specialty beers anywhere near those things! Some of us (ahem) in the beer world are just as snobby about proper glassware as those in the wine realm.

    I can see how those style glasses might fit appropriately in the French countryside, where people are drinking wine out of jugs and such, but you are right, the glass does absolutely no justice to the wine you are drinking. Lesson learned: BYOW and BYOG.



    • 1WineDude

      Hey Wenchie!!!

      I did not mean to imply any disrespect for specialty brews (my love affair with beer PREDATES my love affair with wine) – I actually WANT some beers in a goblet-shaped glass (though more traditional goblet than then glass I had with dinner last night), especially the Belgian brews.


  • Kevin Olsen

    True dat, Dude… I'm just saying I think we — as wine drinkers and those in the wine industry — should reach far and wide to squelch the snobbiness in the appreciation of wine.

    • 1WineDude

      Kevin, my man – truer words were never spoken! To that end, I've never refused wine from a plastic cup at a picnic, and never will! ;-)

      • Kevin Olsen

        Cheers to you! That's what I like to hear!

  • UnmitigatedGaul

    Thanks for the backup, Kevin. Most of the above comments are exactly the reason why per capita consumption in this country is so low. Get over your bad selves!

  • Ron Washam, HMW

    You know, it wasn't that long ago that when you went to taste wines at wineries in Napa Valley, and elsewhere, you tasted out of really cheap, logo, Libbey glassware that you got to take home with you after you finished tasting because they didn't want to have to buy dishwashers and clean them. Those glasses certainly didn't flatter the wines, but those were the days before Riedel made glass snobbery mandatory. Once when I was moving I took about 100 of them to Goodwill. I love to think of people less well off drinking jug wines out of Caymus glasses.

    You could have simply not opened your la-dee-dah, no doubt free sample, Matthiasson wines and slugged down some unpretentious house wine, Joe. You knew the glasses weren't going to do the wines any favors, but you chose to open the bottles. It ain't the restaurant's fault. You are NOT required to cater to wine folks just because you open a restaurant. They didn't charge you corkage, right? So they're making Zero dollars on your wine. The breakage on wine glasses in restaurants is horrendous, even at four bucks a stem it's tough to swallow.

    I remember when Tra Vigne opened in St. Helena, which must be about 20 years ago now, all they had to offer for wine glasses were tumblers, which they claimed were traditional in Italian restaurants in Italy. Wow, you'd have thought they'd murdered Brother Timothy with the outcry that occurred. Now they have shiny glassware for those who request it. But they charge a hefty corkage fee.

    I love a good glass too. And how do you know the Matthiason wines aren't pedestrian? Sure, blame the glass.

    • 1WineDude

      Ron – totally agree with you that wine glasses could be a pay drain for a new bistro trying to make a buck or two. But consider this: in PA, almost NO small restaurant offers booze for purchase because the PLCB and liquor laws are such that they have to spend a small fortune on a booze license. So, almost no small-to-medium-sized restaurant charges corkage in PA because they use the BYO tag as a big promotional / marketing angle to attract patrons – this place was no exception.

      I actually opened the wines *before* the glasses came out (they brought them as I was using the shiny metal and totally awesome waiters friend corkscrew) and I had a look that sort of said "uh-oh… are those for the wine? maybe we should have brought some inexpensive Chianti instead… and am I a snob for having this kind of thought." Then my daughter started screaming about cake and dinosaurs.

      On a slightly more serious note, I've had those Matthiasson wines from bottle and barrel so I feel pretty familiar with them, and I know for sure they're not shoddy. In fact, I'm drinking them from inexpensive tulip-shaped wine glasses right now at home as I type this and they taste great.

  • Ron Washam, HMW

    Oh, so the problem is you live in Pennsylvania! That's easy.


    On the other hand, most places here have crappy, overpriced wine lists and exorbitant corkage fees. I'd rather drink great wine from crappy stemware.

    • 1WineDude

      well, god knows Mrs. Dudette wouldn't argue with that advice, especially if the new destination is somewhere warm!

      • Richard Scholtz

        This is why you should move to Austin, TX. Warm (well, it's ******* hot right now, at 102) climate, wine friendly, and no ridiculous PLCB to worry about! Granted, if you do move here, you'll have to invest in some kind of wine storage, but that's a small price to pay for being able to get wine from almost anywhere. Did I tell you we have wine and liquor stores the size of grocery stores?

      • El Jefe

        Don't mess around, just move to the source here in CA. You could be a Dude among dudes!

  • Sherman

    Yes, I pack my own stemware to a BYOB and I've walked out of restaurants that tried to serve me wine in a *tumbler*! It wasn't because they didn't realize the difference (they knew), but it didn't fit with their "image" of a neighborhood italian-esque eatery. Somebody told them that's how they served it back in the 'hood and so they decided to be "authentic" —

    If you intentionally give me the wrong implements for the meal (how about a teaspoon with your minestrone, eh?), how "authentic" an experience can it be? I want the best expression of the meal, the wine and the ambience/service; if any of those elements are off, then my enjoyment of the experience is off. Maybe they should offer a discount for the lessened experience? Yeah, fat chance of that happening —

    So go prepared — Riedel used to make a nicely constructed and padded carrying case for two stems, as well as four stems. That way I'm ready to have a great time —

    • 1WineDude

      Well Sherman – I have friends who do the same thing!

  • @EaglesNestWine

    Those "goblets" while far from perfect, are better than the (cringe) ubiquitous, industrial strength burgundy stems that you could pound nails with. ;-) I'm with you – the stemware is a key part of the classic and full enjoyment of wine as a beverage.

    • 1WineDude

      DIY housework with Burgundy stems… might just try that…

  • El Jefe

    Here's the perfect solution! Rugged, transportable, and you'll fit right into local beverage culture (referring to the item on the left of course):

    • 1WineDude

      El Jefe – HA! Just need to thin out that rim on the mug and we'd be good to go…

    • Lori in Pittsburgh

      Or… http://www.momastore.org/museum/moma/ProductDispl

    • El Jefe

      Sounds like we have established that the difference between modern art and kitsch is a handle…!

  • 1WineDude


  • iSupportWine

    Ha! Seriously, I am wondering if those are my grandmother's old wine glasses that maybe the restaurant found at the thrift store where we donated! Though they have a sort of sentimental charm for me, I agree they are not the best choice for serving in a restaurant. And I am no wine snob, I'll sip out of the plastic cup with a big 'ol smile anyday!

  • Tim Ahern

    well you could always smack the waiter over the head with them and tell him if they were crystal they wouldn't hurt as much.


  • Syrah Wine

    There is no question that the right glass can enhance your wine drinking experience, but I try to loosen up with stuff like this. I get less than optimal glassware in Italy all the time (actually pretty much all through Europe). Sometimes I think we Americans take the ritual of wine more seriously than getting it down our throats…. I empathize that it would have been nicer to have complementary glasses to accompany your meal…and you aren't complaining really. But maybe there were trying to show you what it would be like if you wandered into a comparable restaurant in Italy.

  • 1WineDude

    Tim – HA!!!! Excellent!

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