Wine Service 101: Using the Appropriate Stemware

I recently posed the question: “Am I was becoming a curmudgeonly old man, and a wine snob?”
I explained there are 2 things (so far, 2 things) that really irk me about the wine experience while dining out. The first thing is serving wine at the incorrect temperature.

propper stemware

Pet Peeve

The second thing is not serving wine in the appropriate stemware.
Now, you can’t expect your local sports bar to have anything other than tiny red wine glasses that they fill precariously close to the rim, so they’re not the ones I’m complaining about.
But how about a nice non-chain restaurant, an Italian place, or a trendy Bistro? Shouldn’t a place that actually takes time and effort to make great food, at least consider the presentation of their beverages? I went to a wonderful Bistro here in Phoenix a while back, and the food was absolutely outstanding. Except the red wine came in champagne flutes. Really? I am paying $35 for a 6oz fillet Mignon and I get red wine in a tall skinny glass? I felt like a jerk when I asked if the server could pour the wine into a red wine glass for me, and she said “That’s the only wine glass we have”. I felt like saying “well in that case, just bring me the bottle” The people dining with me laughed and said I needed to lighten up.
I’m not saying that I need my wine in Riedel stemware. But I really do need my reds served in a nice, big glass, so I can swirl it and smell it. It’s gotten to the point now where as I walk into a restaurant to be seated, I take a quick glance at the glasses people are drinking their wine from. The bigger they are, the safer, more relaxed I feel. I almost feel like the character from the TV show “Monk”; the little things bug me. If all the wine glasses are the same, regardless of red or white, that’s a bad sign. If they are little and filled to the top, that means I am ordering beer; it’s pretty hard to screw that up.
So tell me: am I a wine snob?


  1. And eschew the wretched Paris goblet, that hideous little tennis ball of a glass condemned by George Reidel himself as “the enemy of wine”. A glass too thick and too small to enhance the flavour, too shallow and open to enhance the bouquet, and too mimsy to suggest generosity.

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