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No edition Friday or Monday
A quick administrative note: We're taking a brief pre-holiday break, so there'll be no edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor/Wine Advisor Express on Friday or Monday. The Express will go out as usual tomorrow, and the full weekly Wine Advisor will be distributed on Tuesday, a day later than usual, next week.

Wine Advisor Express:
Does the wine glass matter?

I didn't bring particularly high expectations when we went out to dinner last night. We were checking out a new restaurant, a family-Italian eatery run by a fast-growing Houston-based chain (Carrabba's Italian Grill) that has just opened its 100th property. My experience with franchise-type suburban eateries didn't inspire me to expect anything special.

We were pleasantly surprised, though, to find a pleasant spot with hearty dishes that, if not truly authentic Italian, was certainly in the spirit of Italian-American family fare. And - finally circling around to the wine-related point - Carrabba's won my affection by making an extra effort to get the small things right, from warmed bread plates to pepper and sea-salt grinders and cruets of quality olive oil on the tables ... and best of all, surprisingly large and attractive wine glasses.

Call me a curmudgeon, but it bothers me when a fancy restaurant kisses off wine service with undersized, overweight glasses. Cheap glassware may be durable in heavy restaurant use, but it's disappointing to have a pricey bottle of wine served in dime-store glasses. Yet many of our city's most luxurious eateries do this routinely, so it was a special pleasure to see a relatively modest franchise restaurant with an unassuming wine list get it right. (For the record, we enjoyed a Gabbiano 1999 Chianti Classico, not underpriced at $23, with our wood-oven pizza and spaghetti and meatballs.)

So what are my criteria for a good wine glass? It should be large enough to hold a reasonable serving of wine with enough space left for swirling (as discussed in Monday's Wine Advisor). It should be "tulip" shaped, with slightly inward curving edges to help hold the aromas in the glass. And it will normally have a stem to hold it by, to avoid greasy fingerprints and to keep your hands from warming the wine. It should be of clear glass or crystal; colored or opaque glass would keep you from enjoying the natural color of the wine. And, although this is not critical, thin, delicate glass conveys a sense of luxury and elegance that you don't get with a thick, heavy wine glass.

I'm not persuaded by the argument that it's necessary to keep a variety of glasses to show off specific wines (although the good folks at Riedel Crystal - unquestionably one of the highest-quality wine glasses around - sell a lot of expensive glassware in dozens of shapes and sizes). In my opinion, any reasonably good-size stemmed glass meeting the standards I've listed here should serve you well, at a restaurant or in your home.

For more information about top-quality glassware, Riedel http://www.riedelcrystal.com/, as noted, is an Austrian producer whose glassware is expensive but luxurious and fine. The German firm Spiegelau, http://www.spiegelau.com/, produces a high-quality, comparatively affordable alternative.

Finally, our friends at the Brentwood Wine Co. are offering a special holiday sale on Riedel glasses. If you're looking for a luxurious wine-related gift, you'll want to compare prices at http://www.riedelsales.com.

Acker Merrall:
Last call for Friday auction

Fellow wine lovers! Don't forget this Friday (Dec. 14) is Acker Merrall's last live auction of the year! You can search and bid through http://www.ackerwines.com. Please make sure all bids are in by Friday morning, U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Over $1.5 million worth of wine is available. Good luck and a happy holiday season to all!

2000 Years Ferreira's Vintage Port
A.A. Ferreira, S.A., is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year with the presentation of two limited collections of Vintage Port Wine. Essential for all collectors, scholars and lovers of Wine and Port Wine.

Come and visit these exclusive collections at www.2000yearsvintage.com. Click to http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor/porto.html.

Administrivia
This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page, http://www.wineloverspage.com.

To subscribe, change your E-mail address, switch from daily to the weekly (Mondays only) distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail wine@wineloverspage.com. In the unhappy event that you must leave us, please take a moment to let us know how we could have served you better. In all administrative communications, please be sure to include the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so we can find your record.

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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