Posted: May 16, 2019
A newer, saner era of sensible drinking vessels has arrived.
This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to our very opinionated editors’ favorite things to eat, drink, and buy.
I will freely admit that I think about glassware a LOT more than most people do, or frankly should. And with that out of the way, I can say that the last decade or so has been an...interesting time for restaurant glassware in NYC, particularly in the wine department. Here is my condensed, completely unresearched, likely apocryphal history.
First, the economy collapsed, and the kind of fancy, varietal-specific stemware stocked by any establishment serious about wine went out of fashion, ushering in the era of those bulbous, god-awful stemless things. Then came the too-cool-for-wine-glasses period, where classic stackable Duralex tumblers and thin-walled CB2 bodega glasses reigned supreme. (So millennial!) This was followed by the return of the Unfussy Stem. It seemed like every bar manager in the city took a pilgrimage to the natural wine bars of Paris and started stocking the kind of diminutive, narrow-bowled tasting glasses popular with the Glou Glou Illuminati. And then Frenchette, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson’s celebrated TriBeCa neo-bistro and natty wine mecca, opened. And I witnessed the dawn of a newer, saner era.
I remember very distinctly my first encounter with Frenchette’s striking glass of choice. The bowl was delicate but not overly so—narrower than that of your average red wine goblet, but proudly top-heavy perched atop a squat stem. It was also capacious enough for a bit of swirling and sniffing but not so big as to demand it; the glasses split the difference between the towering, pretentious-seeming chalices preferred by my parents’ generation and the anarchic pét-nat delivery vehicles favored by my own. After several visits to the restaurant, enjoying everything from rich, lusty reds to fizzy oranges to Champagne out of the same vessel, I finally got around to asking Jorge Riera, Frenchette’s ever-present wine director, where they came from.
“Oh those?” he said, “Those are just Riedel water glasses, man.”
No shit! Elegant without being intimidating, different without being obtuse, and a true pleasure to both behold and hold, I realized that the wine glass we’ve been Goldilocksing our way toward for the better part of 10 years was not actually a wine glass at all. I placed an order for a set of six before I had even left the restaurant. The time is now: One glass to rule them all.
By Amiel Stanek
May 14, 2019
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