An open letter to restaurant and wine bar owners of the Twin Cities regarding stemware:
You can attend stemware comparison tastings. You can listen to Mr. Riedel lead you through the nuance of a Sauvignon Blanc glass versus a Pinot Noir glass. You can open up the stemware catalogs of your favorite suppliers and gaze longingly at all the selections. You can fuss for days or weeks on end trying to find the perfect glass for your wine bar. And in your mind, always, is that you are doing this for the love of your customers that are already sitting down and enjoying wine.
Guess what? You are wrong!
The number one reason to take stemware seriously is that it is the first visual impression you make to the die-hard wine geeks — the ones that you spend so much time and money courting.
Walking in an urban area like Chicago or San Francisco or Sydney, where wine bars are piled up one after another, my only quick visual analysis about the quality of an establishment is the stemware — anybody can have ambiance, great lighting, candles, good music, etc. If I see great stemware, I know wine is taken seriously and I am much more apt to walk in. If I see clunky, junky, thick glasses (which are so often used by even the best restaurants in the country … Urgh!!!) I will never even set foot in the establishment. We’ll cover the idea of “one perfect stem” in a future post, but for now be sure to take a careful look at your current vessels.
A tremendous amount of energy is spent on all the ‘in the room’ details of a wine bar or restaurant. But don’t put the cart before the horse … you need to get people in the door before you can show them how great you are.