Recently, my esteemed publisher and good friend Eve Bushman wrote an article about her current pet peeves.
I think I was at least partially instrumental in triggering one of them.
One of the issues she raised had to do with restaurant customers whining about the adequacy of appropriate stemware for wine service. Her suggestion to the whiner was something to the effect of “get over it or bring your own glasses.” While Eve said that I was not the only person who has complained to her about glasses, we did just recently have the following experience…
We were dining at a reasonably nice restaurant, which shall remain nameless. The wine list had obviously been given some thought and it was well put together. But the wineglasses for the restaurant were essentially just nice stemmed water glasses. I asked Eve: “Why doesn’t [blank] have decent wineglasses to go with the effort he’s put into everything else in the restaurant?” Her reply was: “Why don’t you just bring your own?”
Admittedly, there have been times when I have done just that, although not in a while. Schlepping glasses is just not a lot of fun. Also, one of Eve’s pet peeves that she mentions in the article refers to wine snobs, and I don’t think there is much that make you look more like a wine snob than showing up at a restaurant with a bunch of Riedels. Although, yes, I have done it but I try to limit that to when the wineglasses are just totally unacceptable.
If you ask my preference, then I’d say I’d prefer all restaurants serve wine in large, thin Riedel or similar glasses. But once I get beyond that preference, then I look at context.
I’m going to digress now. Please bear with me for a few paragraphs.
I’ve been wanting to write about one of our favorite restaurants for some time and this is a perfect opportunity.
Maré on Melrose is…well…it’s an experience. Parking on Melrose can be pretty tricky so plan on using the valet or a car service. There is no direct entry to Maré. Instead, walk into Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese [Chef Eric Greenspan and his partners own both restaurants] and go to the back [be sure to say hi to the guys behind the counter]. Walk through the grilled cheese shop’s storage area and up a short flight of stairs. Finally open what appears to be a refrigerator door; you find yourself in a four-walled uncovered patio. Welcome to Maré!
According Chef Greenspan: “Maré is inspired by a European city by the coast…a little getaway to relax and share good food with good company.”
The menu is focused, with a heavy emphasis on seafood. Service is excellent, friendly and gracious. Karen almost always gets one of the seafood broths with pasta and a poached egg still in the shell – I usually steal the egg from her. There is also a whole branzino on the bone, a skirt steak and a half a dozen or so other regular menu items, as well as typically a few specials. We recently had a sweet potato gnocchi that was nothing short of amazing. The few desserts are excellent as well and I definitely suggest you save room for at least one of them. I recommend this place very highly; it’s a good idea to go with a few or even several people to be able to share multiple dishes but the starlit sky also provides for a nice romantic atmosphere for a couple. It is a fairly small patio so reservations are definitely suggested. I admit I wasn’t sure I’d like this place but I thought I’d go once to check it out. We keep going back.
The wine list is fairly small. The wines offered aren’t ones I’m familiar with and I haven’t had an opportunity to find out how they are selected. We BYOB, although we usually order a glass of something white, pink or sparkling to start, or maybe even the sangria.
The wine glasses are essentially tumblers. I’m not talking Riedel O-series here, I just mean short wide tumblers. And you know what? In this setting, they work, they’re perfectly acceptable and they’re kind of fun.
Note that Maré recently opened a second location in Santa Monica, taking over the old JiRaffe spot. The ambience there is a little more upscale and the glasses match that. We like both places but we still prefer the Melrose location.
So, back to wineglasses. Once you get past that you’re not going to get high end stemware everywhere you go, then it should come down to context. So long as you’re not being served wine in little thimble-sized glasses, I think it comes down to the glasses fitting, at least, the ambience of the restaurant.
And to that guy who has an upscale restaurant who has spent a lot of time putting together a nice wine list, yeah, you still need better wineglasses.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.