Sunday, February 03, 2008


I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going kind of guy. I try not to press people for 'nice to know' details that do not ultimately affect anything. If someone tells me they'll arrive between 3:30 and 4:00, I can live with that. I do not require them to call me when they are 5 minutes away or anything like that. But there is one thing I'm particular about that seems to shatter my easy-going nature: when people use the wrong type of glass. I know it sounds petty, but it really bothers me.
There are several specific glasses named after the beverages for which they were designed. This, my favorite of all glasses, is a martini glass.
It is called a martini glass because it was designed for martinis. Notice the stem? That is to hold the martini glass so the heat of your hand does not warm the contents of the glass. Martinis are never served with ice cubes in the glass. Even the shape of the glass is proportionate to the suggested volume of martini to be consumed. Quite simply, the shape and function of this glass is pure brilliance. Please - I beg of you, do not serve any other beverage but a martini in a martini glass, or your left ear will rot and fall off.

This, my 2nd favorite glass, is the pilsner. Pilsners are designed for beer. Notice the tall, tapered shape? Again, it is proportionate to the typical amount of beer poured from a can or bottle. Please - do not serve any other beverage but beer in a pilsner glass, or you will surely bounce a check within 48 hours.

This is a wine glass, possibly the most frequently misused glass. Whether long-stemmed or short-stemmed, wine glasses should never contain any other beverage but wine, and especially not champagne. Champagne has its own glass; keep reading. This is a brandy snifter. Yes, there is a 't' in the word snifter. Again, the shape of this glass is ideal for brandy, as it suggests wrapping your hand around its bowl, allowing the heat of your hand to lightly warm the brandy for maximum bouquet and flavor. Unlike the glasses above, its size is not proportionate to the volume of brandy it can hold. Never, ever fill a brandy snifter to the top. But rather, only about 1/4 of the glass should be filled, allowing the drinker to swirl the brandy without spilling it. If any other beverage is served in a brandy snifter you will immediately become uglier than you used to be.
This is a champagne flute. Its tall, narrow, elegant shape allows one to easily see all the delightful, mirth-inducing bubbles rising to the top. It is acceptable to serve a Mimosa in a champagne glass since a Mimosa is simply a combination of champagne and orange juice.
This is a highball glass; also known as a tumbler. This is the one glass you may use for more than one kind of beverage! Oh, you'd like a Tom Collins? Certainly, in this highball glass/tumbler. Rum and Coke? Coming right up in this highball glass/tumber! Lots of cocktails can correctly be served in a highball glass/tumbler, so if in doubt ask yourself "Does this cocktail have a glass named after it?" If not, chances are a highball glass/tumbler is the correct glass. This is a margarita glass. Remember, its margarita, NOT marguerita. Please note there is no 'u' or 'e' in this margarita. The unique shape of this glass, which helps distinguish it from others, suggests only one beverage, a margarita, should ever be served in it. Word!Hopefully these little tips and photos will prevent you from offending someone with delicate beverage glass sensibilities like me, and will allow you to appear as though you really know your way around a bar. No thanks necessary - I just consider this a sort of public service announcement.

I remember an occasion where some friends and I ordered cocktails at a rather nice restaurant. Three of us ordered martinis and when the waitress brought the drinks to us, 2 of the martinis were in martini glasses and 1 was in a wine glass. I must have given the waitress a horrified look because without a word from me she apologized "I'm sorry for the wine glass but we ran out of martini glasses, and I didn't think you'd want to wait until the dishwasher was finished." Without argument the cocktail tasted exactly as it would in the correct glass, but my level of enjoyment was diminished.

There's a huge billboard in Ocean City, MD advertising some restaurant and bar (I can't remember the name) along with its slogan, in quotation marks, "Best margaritas on the beach!". To my horror, next to the best margarita quote they have a giant martini glass! I threatened to call the restaurant and tell them the billboard made them look like idiots since everyone knows that margaritas have their own glass, yet they chose a martini glass to accompany their 'best margaritas' quotation, but Spouse suggested I not waste my energy. After all, it was Ocean City.

Crush du Jour: Tom Brady


Gregory said...

Educate the masses, Mark. Spread the gospel of stemwear!

Kevin said...

Well done.

Might I contribute?

When it comes to wine glasses, look for glasses with a "lipless" rim. Otherwise, you want a completely cut and flush rim, not that "roll" around the rim. Believe it or not, that roll will force the wine onto a different part of your tongue and change the taste altogether.

What a great idea, Mark!

Christopher said...

You are soooo my people!

Scot said...

I recently threw a party and insisted all wine drinkers use a real wine glass. I admit to letting most of the rest use plastic cups. For the select few, myself included, glasses were used. I needed my Martini glass. I opted for the more American heavy glass beer mug, frosted, for one of the better beers I let a party goer have from my "reserve" section of the fridge. Out of curiosity, do you perfer the champagne flute to the traditional open-bowl shape? I personally prefer the phallic shape to the one supposedly shaped from Marie Antoinette's breast

cb said...

I LOVE drinking wine in a pilsner glass! Mmmmm!

You didn't include a daqueri glass, or a tiki mug...

Kevin said...

may i interject once again.

well, i'm gonna.

to answer scot's ?? the old fashioned champagne bowl was created for a different kind of champers. if you used it today for oh, say Veuve you would have to drink it very fast. not that there's a problem with that, but it's nice to savour.

i think this is going to inspire a whole new thing over at The Gay!

Conrad F said...

The only thing i would add, is that I've been taught to pour wine and brandy (in their proper glasses) to just above the widest point of glass. Especially for wider red wine glasses.