How to place wine glasses on the table
A brief note on wine glass etiquette. How to place them on the table and when to remove the glassware apt for appreciating the Bacchus’s delicacies
The rules are few and simple: wine glassware is positioned from right to left. The wine glass for the entree is the first on the right and the one for dessert is last on the left. Better to use glasses without a stem for water so as to make it easier to identify.
BEST USE A TUMBLER FOR WATER AND STEMMED GLASSWARE FOR ALL WINES
A while back the water glass was the largest but with the arrival of noticeably larger wine glasses it has been necessary to find a practical alternative so as to not occupy too much space on the table. Those used to the old etiquette, however, often pour water into the large wine glasses for red wines and then feel terribly embarrassed. The new wine glasses are in fact much more bulky than the “old style” ones but also much easier to wash. I can remember the nightmare of washing the etched and engraved crystal glassware around 50 years ago, that would chip at the slightest contact, and would cut the hands of those washing them like razors. They were so impractical to remain nearly always shut in cabinets and so they would get passed on from generation to generation, clutter that nobody knew what to do with.
ENOUGH OF THIS REVERENTIAL FEAR OF CRYSTAL GLASSES, THEY ARE INDISPENSABLE TO TASTE WINE
The prices of crystal wine glass have been reduced a lot and at present it is possible to buy “singing crystal” at less than four euro each glass. So now there is a much less reverential rapport towards crystal ware and laying the table has lost the magical charm, like a religious rite, it had long ago.
I like to put all the glasses on the table before my guests sit down but this forces me to limit it to four-five glasses per person so we taste only four or five wines. This is not a bad thing, meals with endless wine tastings, like long ago, and are considered inappropriate in the health logic of the new millennium. To avoid abuse and increasing the tastings one should use a wine spittoon but these must absolutely be avoided at the table.
CHANGE OF GLASSES YES, CHANGE OF GLASSES NO
If the wines to taste are more than 4 better to remove the wine glass on the far right after the successive wine has been poured and replace it with a clean one to be used immediately after. The succession of wines becomes more complicated and requires sommeliers and waiters who have a certain expertise who move glasses and serve from bottles without making mistakes. It can be done but only with excellent waiting staff.
I am contrary to the removal of glasses once the successive wine has been served. This is how it should be done to avoid the room filling with Bacchus’s aromas, but this makes the table barer and I do not like it. The compromise is to have only the first glass taken away or maybe two, on the right, when they are no longer being used and leave the rest.
WHEN THE WINE GLASS FOR DESSERT RUINS THE SCENE
The size of glassware at the table grows in height and volume – from tight to left – to finish with the glass for fine red wines. Dessert wines are served in smaller portions with respect to the 50 Cl of a usual serving of other types of wine. For this reason the glass that accompanies dessert has a smaller bowl with respect to the others. Crystal makers solve the problem by making the stem longer. The effect though is not very harmonious on the table, and so if you do not love sweet wines, like me, you can use smaller dessert glasses . These are less problematic and easier to wash, and you can hide them next to the water tumbler, leaving the large red wine glasses to embellish the table.
I understand that this is an interpretation of the “mise en place”, by a Brunello producer, but give it a try and you will see at a glance that the table is much more beautiful.