Tag Archives: Mauro Veglio

Crappy Stemware–The Sweatpants of Wine

James Melendez, aka James the Wine Guy, recently published a terrific little rant about the quality of wine glasses used at many tasting events and restaurants.

Photo by The White House. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under PD US Government

His post reminded me of one of my saddest wine moments. Several years ago, my wife accepted an offer at Amazon.  To celebrate, we went out to dinner with friends.

We were going to a restaurant that had fantastic food but a pedestrian wine list so we brought along a bottle for corkage. That bottle was the 1997 Salon.

I was relatively young in my wine education at the time. So while I knew enough to recognize a crappy restaurant wine list, I was still too naive to realize that crappy wine list=crappy stemware. (Of course, I  know that a great wine list doesn’t always equate to great stemware.)

So we ended up drinking this fabulous bottle of Champagne from…this.

Champagne Salon crappy stemware

Yeah, it was pretty sad.

Needless to say, I certainly didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth. The Champagne was drinkable. But I honestly wonder if I would have gotten the same amount of pleasure drinking a Mimosa made from a Spanish Cava at that moment.

Later on, I would have the 1997 Salon again in much better stemware. The experience was worlds apart. I know that bottle variation and aging played some role in that but the stemware did too.

Now given how much we know about how the shape of the glass impact our perception of a wine, you have to wonder why so many wine events, restaurants and wineries settle for crappy stemware.

Yes, I know breakage is a concern.

But there has to be a trade-off in the cost of the wine glasses versus the cost of lost sales.

I don’t think every winery needs to invest in the top of the line Zaltos or Riedels. But there is plenty of decent stemware available in the $9-15 range that would be a considerable step up from these $2-5 goobers.

I enjoyed both of these but I only bought one bottle of the Greek white. And, honestly, I bought it more for the novelty than the quality.

The current release of the Portteus Viognier is around $15 a bottle. If better stemware helped this winery sell only a case more a month, that would be an extra $2160 in sales a year.

If we went with $15 glasses like these Schott Zwiesel Concerto Burgundy glasses (which would likely be cheaper buying wholesale in bulk), the winery would have to break 144 glasses to wipe out the revenue of those extra sales.

As someone who has dropped an entire dish rack of 25 glasses (only broke 18 of them!), I know that is possible. But not probable.

Putting your best foot forward

Tristeaum and Mauro Veglio

I bought way more than $15 worth of extra wine at these places.
Of course, the quality of the wine was there but the stemware allowed that quality to shine.

Wineries devote so much care and passion into making the best product they can. Why waste all that of by presenting your labor of love in anything but the best possible light?

In many ways, presenting your wines to consumers is like a job interview. You wouldn’t show up in sweatpants and expect a favorable response. Why do we think that presenting wine in “sweatpant stemware” makes any more favorable of an impression?

Treating your stemware as an afterthought is essentially sending the message that your wine is an afterthought as well.

And don’t get me started about wine events.

Horrible Total Wine glasses

My apologies to any winery that has ever had their wines poured for a wine class at Total Wine.

I know wineries can’t always control how their wine is presented at tasting events and wine classes. But as James points out in his piece, it is often cringe-worthy.

I spent over five years teaching wine classes for a major retail chain that makes billions in revenue each year. Along with providing a great consumer experience, a primary goal of these wine classes was to sell wine.

Yet, my former company gave me just about the cheapest, shittiest glassware possible to do that with. It made zero sense whatsoever. These glasses probably turned more people off on the wines being featured than they did anything else.

Sigh

It all comes back to the job interview analogy. You don’t necessarily need to wear a tailored suit or designer dress. But you sure and the hell don’t want to show up wearing sweatpants.

So, please, stop dressing your wines up in them.

Subscribe to Spitbucket

New posts sent to your email!

Geek Notes — Super Cool Map of Barolo Crus

A section of the Grand Crus of Barolo map with the full version at http://www.jdemeven.cz/wine/Barolo_map.pdf

For centuries wine collectors and lovers have poured over maps of the top vineyard sites in Burgundy.

Names like Chambertin, Clos St Jacques, Les Amoureuses, La Tâche, Les Suchots, Les St Georges, Les Perrières, Charmes, Genevrières and Montrachet are practically tattooed on the hearts of wine geeks everywhere.

But as the prices of those wines reach several hundred and even $1000+ a bottle, it’s becoming more worthwhile to look outside of Burgundy for complex, terroir-driven wines.

One such area that is ripe for geeky exploration is Barolo and its sister region of Barbaresco.

Like Pinot noir, Nebbiolo does a fantastic job of conveying the story of where it came from–the soils, the micro-climate and the character of each vintage. Just like in Burgundy, a Barolo made in one cru could taste dramatically different than a Barolo made from vines that are just a stone’s throw away–even by the same producer and tended to in the exact same manner.

It’s clear that the next horizon for wine geekdom is going to be pouring over maps of the top vineyard sites in Piedmont and tattooing names like Rocche dell’Annunziata, Cannubi, Brunate, Vigna Rionda and others on our hearts. While prices of these wines are steadily starting to rise, good bottles showing amazing complexity and character can still be found for a fraction of the price of top Burgundy Grand and Premier Crus.

Really gorgeous Rocche dell’Annunziata from Mauro Veglio. This wine has the stuffing to last 20+ years.

That is one of the reasons why I was very excited to stumble upon this excellent map produced by a Czech blogger that highlights many of the top crus in Barolo. It’s well worth checking out and bookmarking.

The map offers a great description of the main soil types in Barolo–Tortonian and Helvetian–and the type of wines they tend to produce as well as general commune characteristics and the top crus from each.

A Few of My Favorite Barolo Crus

Last June I got an opportunity to visit Piedmont and fell in love with several wines from some of these top vineyards.

Only two producers work with the fruit of the Marenca cru in Serralunga d’Alba–Luigi Pira and Gaja for their Sperss Barolo.


Arborina (La Morra)
Gattera (La Morra)
Rocche dell’Annunziata (La Morra)
Sarmassa (Barolo)
Romirasco (Monforte d’Alba)
Margheria (Serralunga d’Alba)
Vigna Rionda (Serralunga d’Alba)
Marenca (Serralunga d’Alba)
Villero (Castiglione Falletto)

Other Great Resources For Geeking Out About Barolo and Barbaresco

Antonio Galloni’s Vinous site has some beautiful and very well put together interactive maps of Barolo and Barbaresco that are available to subscribers. These maps not only show the topography difference but also includes a quality ranking of Exceptional, Outstanding and Noteworthy. When you click on each vineyard the map give you a description for the style of the wines from the cru, key producer and reference bottles as well as links to educational videos that go into greater details about the terroir and wines.

Many of these write-ups are done by my Vino-Crush Ian D’Agata who is writing an upcoming book about Barolo and Barbaresco.

Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine by Kerin O’Keefe.

This goes a little more into history and the general culture of the region but also name drops important producers and vineyards.

Barolo and Barbaresco (Guides to Wines and Top Vineyards) by Benjamin Lewin.

Written by a Master of Wine, this is a fantastic (and super cheap) resource for anyone planning to visit the area because Lewin highlights the producers that have tasting appointments available.

Barolo MGA Vol. I & II and Barbaresco MGA by Alessandro Masnaghetti.

Masnaghetti’s books are written in both English and Italian.

These are really pricey (especially when you add international shipping) but they are, by far, the benchmark standard reference for intimately learning the cru vineyards of Barolo and Barbaresco. Beautifully illustrated with great detail, I picked up my copies while I was in Piedmont (at 40 euros apiece) and saved a little bit of money but they are well worth the publisher’s price and getting them shipped.

A Wine Atlas of the Langhe: The Great Barolo and Barbaresco Vineyards by Victtorio Mangnelli.

A little bit outdated (2003) but at around $53 it is cheaper than buying all of Masnaghetti’s volumes and is still a useful resource with detailed maps and producer listings.

Subscribe to Spitbucket

New posts sent to your email!