Glass half empty, glass half full
But what about wine lovers? When we're enjoying our favorite beverage, it's definitely correct to serve it in a glass that's only half full. Or less.
I fielded this question recently from a reader bemused by the dilemma that besets restaurant service: Many diners, especially those who aren't wine-savvy, will feel cheated if presented a glass that appears to hold a less than generous portion.
But it is definitely best to serve fine wine with plenty of air space left in the glass. The reason for this is simple: Smelling the wine is an important part of enjoying it, and you don't get the full benefit of the smell unless there is room to swirl the wine so it coats the inside of the glass. This sheen of wine on the glass evaporates quickly, releasing the volatile aromas of the wine so you can enjoy them.
Now, if the glass is filled to the top, you can't swirl it, so you don't get all the aroma. But if the restaurant serves only a half-glass, it looks like they're being cheap. It's a no-win situation.
Typically, luxury restaurants with a commitment to wine will serve large glasses only half-filled, and will expect that their customers are familiar with wine and understand this. But I've found that most family-oriented restaurants use smaller glasses but fill them to the top, becuase they don't want people to think they're being stingy.
As a wine enthusiast, I would much rather have fine wines served the correct way. But if I'm in a less expensive restaurant and having a more casual wine, then I probably won't object to the full glass.
What's your opinion? Do you have funny or instructive stories about restaurant wine service? Contact me by E-mail at email@example.com. I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note, but I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.
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about the next two issues
While we're away, I hope to be able to maintain something close to a routine production schedule for The 30 Second Wine Advisor, but based on the realities of the demands of travel and connectivity issues from Europe, please be aware that I may not be able to distribute the bulletin at the usual time on Mondays. At best, all subscribers will receive a shorter, text-only edition that may or may not arrive at the usual time. At worst, technology will defeat us, and there may be no issue until May 15, the Monday after we return home. But we'll do our best, and hope to be able to stay in touch! (Please note also that I probably won't be able to respond to administrative requests such as address changes, unsubscribe or re-subscribe requests until we return home.)
Finally, if any of you happen to live near or will be traveling along our route - Milan to the Langhe region (Alba, Asti, Barolo) in Northwestern Italy, then Bandol in Provence, Avignon, Bordeaux and Paris - please feel free to get in touch by E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps we can get together to enjoy a glass of wine!
Domaine Tempier 1998 Bandol Rosé ($19.99)
FOOD MATCH: Works very well indeed with a sweet, honey-touched Easter ham.
Corino 1998 Barbera d'Alba ($12.99)
Seghesio 1998 Dolcetto d'Alba Vigneto della Chiesa ($11.99)
FOOD MATCH: Both Alba reds above work well with a T-bone with a roast-pepper velouté, but the Barbera's robust body and earthy flavors make it a standout match.
www.fresnobee.com's "Wine Cellar"
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Vol. 2, No. 14, April 24, 2000