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Does a wine glass need a stem?

Yes!
36
51%
Not sure
9
13%
No!
26
37%
 
Total votes : 71
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Robin Garr

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WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Robin Garr » Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:50 pm

Does a wine glass need a stem?
<table align=right width=165><tr><td>Image</td></tr><tr><td>Look over Riedel "O" glasses on Amazon.com.</td></tr></table>Certain topics are almost certain to start a joyous debate among wine enthusiasts: Are screwcaps better than cork? Is Robert M. Parker Jr.'s influence on the wine industry good or evil? Can mega-corporate industrial producers ever make great wine?

But who ever thought wine lovers could get so worked up over such the seemingly small matter of whether your wine glass needs a stem? Since I wrote about the Riedel "O" series of fine but stem-free wine glasses in Standing O in the Feb. 23, 2005 Wine Advisor, the archived article has become one of my most frequent topics for E-mail questions.

Just about everyone has an opinion, and it's usually a vivid one, ranging from "glasses without stems are just plain tacky" at one end to "only wine snobs care if the glass has a stem" on the other.

Pro-stem fundamentalists cite long-standing tradition, and add that the stem keeps your hand from warming the wine in the glass and avoids smearing the bowl with greasy fingerprints. Anti-stem radicals argue that simple tumblers are good enough for trattoria and taverna, where wine-loving revelers understand that the purpose of the vessel is nothing more than to convey the precious fluid from bottle to mouth. Add wine-geek points to the Riedel O, they say, for turning the modest tumbler into something much more worthy for fine wine: An elegant crystal vessel with a properly shaped bowl, rendered casual and portable by the deletion of the fragile stem.

Just for fun, I've opened a simple poll on one of our WineLovers Discussion Group forums, inviting you to cast a simple up-or-down, yes-or-no vote on the question, "Does a wine glass need a stem?" Once you've cast your vote, I hope you'll stick around the forum to add a comment or two about your preference.

WHERE TO BUY THEM
Riedel glassware is widely available from online and bricks-and-mortar vendors, but it's hard to beat Amazon.com's current sale prices, which offer the Cab/Merlot glass at $18.99 for a pair, a 24 percent discount from the $24.90 list price. Here's a link to buy, with the usual small commission to WineLoversPage.com for purchases made through this link.

For a look at Amazon.com's full line of Riedel O glasses, use this link.

Or use this link for all types of Riedel glassware and decanters.
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Paul B.

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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Paul B. » Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:57 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Anti-stem radicals argue that simple tumblers are good enough for trattoria and taverna, where wine-loving revelers understand that the purpose of the vessel is nothing more than to convey the precious fluid from bottle to mouth.


Well, I've never thought of myself personally as an anti-stem radical. I have stems at home and use them nearly exclusively, but I can't disagree with the quote above - and there are times when I actually want to drink certain wines right out of the tumbler - e.g. when I'm cooking, or when I invite friends over for pizza and Baco.

In fact, come to think of it, I drank half a bottle of Joseph's 2000 Chancellor out of ordinary glass tumblers. There was something about the moment that made it work just right.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Peter May » Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:25 pm

If it doesn't have a stem, it is a tumbler -- not a wine glass.

That is not to say you can't drink wine from a tumbler, but the contents don't make the glass.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by wnissen » Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:46 pm

Three days ago, I would have answered "No!" But this Saturday, at the Real Wine Assault (see the other thread), I was pleased to have a tumbler. It was much easier in those crowded conditions to keep the tumbler on my plate than to find a flat surface for a stemmed glass. Dare I say, an elegant solution.

That said, I can't think of another situation where I would prefer a tumbler. Sort of like camping gear: that pocket-sized backpacking stove is a lifesaver when you're hiking for miles with all your equipment on your back, but you'd never use it under any other circumstances.

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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Otto » Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:31 pm

I rather like the O. I never use them because of all the pragmatic reasons: they warm up the wine too fast and the fingerprints distort the colour making blind tasting difficult (we have a habit of trying to actually guess the vintage, etc. right when doing blind tasting, not just writing unbiased TNs - keeps the thing interesting. I've actually twice got something right, LOL!!). But in situations like busy off-lines I can see that the Os are more pragmatic than stemmed glasses. But the main point is of course that Riedel rocks.

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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Mike Phillips » Mon Mar 27, 2006 7:56 pm

The O is a beautiful glass and is perfect for use as a water goblet. For wine I think it is absurd! You warm the wine with your hand, you get fingerprints all over the bowel etc etc. Other than the fact that it might not break as easily as a stemmed glass I see no advantage to it.
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it depends IMO

by Bob Henrick » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:19 pm

If one is going to drink from the glass (as opposed to taste) then yes it does need a stem. For tasting it is not as important IMO. I have a set of tasting glasses that do not have stems (but they do have dimples whereby one can hold the glass middle finger on the bottom and thumb on the side) and are probably the most critical tasting glasses ever made. So the answer is "it depends" I usually do not partake of these polls being the curmudgeon that I am , but even I got sucked in on this one! :-)
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:24 pm

Mike Phillips wrote:The O is a beautiful glass and is perfect for use as a water goblet. For wine I think it is absurd! You warm the wine with your hand, you get fingerprints all over the bowel etc etc.


It does have one advantage - in a crowd, it separates the prize pillocks for you without needing them to wear a sign that says "I am a wine twit".

And the 'Impitoyable' version of stemless glass with dents for fingers readily identifies the King of the Pillocks

You have to admit that you don't have this advantage in most areas of activity where you generally have to find the thickies through (often tedious) trial and error.

The only other area I can think of that has readily identifiable twits to be avoided is golf, and the rule is to steer clear of anyone wearing something they should be embarrassed about but clearly are not. Come to think of it, just steering clear of anyone with a golf club is bound to make your life much less enervating.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by charlesdougherty » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:35 pm

I like best a wine glass (actually any glass) with a stem because it keeps moisture away when you put the glass down and does this even better than using a coaster. I find this more important than other considerations.
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It has been created as a wine glass, therefore it is.

by waltonsh » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:49 pm

Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about. I am a bit of a purist, and I believe the Riedel 'O' series is the best at-home wine glass ever. I can put it in the dishwasher, saving me snapping off the stem when I'm washing up, or putting my thumb through the side when I'm polishing the glass.
Re fingerprints: to say that fingerprints distort the colour is absurd, unless you have managed to soak your hands in dye before drinking. In fact, if you are leaving whopping great fingerprints all over the glass, perhaps you should consider washing your hands, as it is likely they may smell too, distorting the aroma of the wine.
Re warming the glass: do you forget that the reason we swirl the wine in the glass is to allow air to enter the wine, because alcohol is volatile, and needs air and warmth to release the aromas and flavours. If your hand is overly warming the wine before you drink, then you are either drinking too slowly, or filling your glass too much.
The only issues I find with the stem are that smelly hands too close to one's nose when trying the wines will affect the flavour. Surely in an at-home situation, we do not need to taste the wine with a judging-like attitude, but we drink for pleasure. Do not forget that many respect Riedel wine glasses as the formost in wine drinking, and the 'O' series are half the price of the stem-ware, and the only difference is they lack the stem. The bowl is the same, and Riedel have shown us over the years that the shape of the bowl is what makes the difference. The stem is useful in formal wine tasting situations, but otherwise is there purely for aesthetic reasons.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Bob Henrick » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:01 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
It does have one advantage - in a crowd, it separates the prize pillocks for you without needing them to wear a sign that says "I am a wine twit".

And the 'Impitoyable' version of stemless glass with dents for fingers readily identifies the King of the Pillocks

You have to admit that you don't have this advantage in most areas of activity where you generally have to find the thickies through (often tedious) trial and error.

The only other area I can think of that has readily identifiable twits to be avoided is golf, and the rule is to steer clear of anyone wearing something they should be embarrassed about but clearly are not. Come to think of it, just steering clear of anyone with a golf club is bound to make your life much less enervating.


Bill, I have a set of the Impitoyables which I almost never use due to their fragility. However I think they are the most critical of tasting glasses ever invented. At least they are the most critical that I have ever tasted from. So, are you calling me a fool, or just stupid? I would appreciate a more complete answer than "if the shoe fits...etc".
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Re: It has been created as a wine glass, therefore it is.

by Bill Spohn » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:08 pm

waltonsh wrote:The bowl is the same, and Riedel have shown us over the years that the shape of the bowl is what makes the difference. The stem is useful in formal wine tasting situations, but otherwise is there purely for aesthetic reasons.


I don't entirely agree that the stem is there only for aesthetic reasons - I think you underestimate the possibility that holding the glass in your hand will cause partially occluded vision through the now less than pristine glass.

But even so, what if the stem were just there because it looks nice?

Picking a joint of meat up in your hands to eat serves the same purpose as using sterling silver finely wrought implements.

A $5 digital watch is often as accurate as a Rolex.

A Hyundai will get you to where you are going just the same as a Jaguar will.

A chunk of lard on a Ritz cracker isn't really different from a slice of seared foie gras on a piece of toasted brioche.

Beethoven's Ninth symphony has all the same notes whether played in person by a symphony orechestra or by a massed kazoo and percussion band.

What is wrong with preferring something beacause one finds it aesthetically pleasing?

I guess I am just a 'stem' person, as I do not like looking at my wine through a mist of grime, and I prefer the elegance a stemmed glass offers.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Bruce Schaefer » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:14 pm

I am all for the tradition and silliness that abounds in the world of wine, the two most prominent being bottles sealed with corks and tall-tippy glasses on stems. The corks have given rise to all the zillions of cork-removing devices out there, plus the tradition of serving up the cork itself to be sniffed by the wine taster in a restaurant. And the stems-with-bowls are so graceful and only appear with wine; martini glasses may have stems, but they're all business. BUT - red wine, being virtually indelible when added to tablecloth, shirt, blouse, suit jacket, tie, silk pants, khakis, napkins, and leather shoes - red wine is where I would draw the line. Stems should be mandatory for white wine but with red wine only when wearing red clothes.

Besides, the French, who know a few things about wine, frequently drink it out of juice glasses.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:15 pm

Bob Henrick wrote:Bill, I have a set of the Impitoyables which I almost never use due to their fragility. However I think they are the most critical of tasting glasses ever invented. At least they are the most critical that I have ever tasted from. So, are you calling me a fool, or just stupid? I would appreciate a more complete answer than "if the shoe fits...etc".


If you are talking about a sit down tasting where the glasses can really come into their own, I would call you a discerning wine aficionado.

If you insist on strutting around in a walk-about tasting environment as I have seen some people do, with Impitoyable clutched in hand, I'd question whether you were an overly serious taster or just a pretentious twit Of course I wouldn't be in any position to make a judgement unless I spoke with you - I'm just telling you what my first impressions would be.

I had a friend that used to carry an Impitoyable around in crowded mass tastings and asked him why he bothered when the surroundings pretty much precluded critical tasting (and as you said, the things are fragile). He said he carried them because the ladies would come over and ask him about his strange glass. I thought about it and concluded that I had finally heard an unanswerable response to the question of whether carrying such glasses at big tastings had any utility!
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Bob Henrick » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:24 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:My post deleted

If you are talking about a sit down tasting where the glasses can really come into their own, I would call you a discerning wine aficionado.

If you insist on strutting around in a walk-about tasting environment as I have seen some people do, with Impitoyable clutched in hand, I'd question whether you were an overly serious taster or just a pretentious twit Partially deleted.

I had a friend that used to carry an Impitoyable around in crowded mass tastings and asked him why he bothered when the surroundings pretty much precluded critical tasting (and as you said, the things are fragile). He said he carried them because the ladies would come over and ask him about his strange glass. I thought about it and concluded that I had finally heard an unanswerable response to the question of whether carrying such glasses at big tastings had any utility!


So, it may be that I am neither a fool or stupid! I thank you. And then if I were going to wine tastings to attract a lady (or plural) maybe I would rather wear a flashing light in my tie that said wine geek. Thanks for the quick comeback.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by karenann8sons » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:35 pm

Speaking only for myself, I LOVE the feel of a stem. Somehow a rose wouldn't be the same without a stem and neither would a wine glass. That is not to say I've never had or enjoyed wine any other way - I drank it from a dixie cup in a hotel room for my anniversary (who forgot to pack the flutes?) but I definitely missed my stemware! Maybe it is a bit shallow of me but I feel the experience of enjoying wine is diminished for me if I can't enjoy it in a stemmed glass ~

I love to swirl and it comes easier to me in a stemmed glass than a tumbler (or aforementioned dixie cup).

I like my wine a little cooler than it would remain if the bowl of the glass were resting in my hot little hands.

There are MANY reason to agree or disagree but once again, it all comes down to personal preference. And by the way, if you are serving friends wine and they object to the way in which you choose to serve them, should they really be considered friends?

Just my thoughts ~

Karen
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stems

by di sogno » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:40 pm

I am funamentaly opposed to "stemless" wine glasses... with a couple of specific exceptions... when drinking vino di tavola... as is the custom throughout Italy and many other countries... the local non-reserve or premium wine is just fine... and in some ways better drunk from a heavy tumbler... the premium wines deserve better...

We have always sought out physical characteristics of the wine that we are drinking... not greasy finger prints...

But then... the ONLY premium glassware that Reidel even really manufacturs today is that which is one piece... everything else is manufactured for them by the other firms.... including the parent company of Spieglau!
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Stems

by Cynthia Wenslow » Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:52 pm

The man I used to be involved with had a set of Os, and we found they were great for a very informal, everyone-hanging-out-in-the-kitchen-making-pizza kind of night, drinking "house" wine. Loved being able to put 15 glasses in the dishwasher rack!

However, I much prefer the look and feel of stems most any other time. While I don't subscribe to the idea that drinking wine should be a "special" event (although it can be), I like the feeling of enjoying a nice wine as a time apart from my otherwise hectic day, and a stemmed glass makes the process a bit more contemplative and relaxed for me.
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Re: It has been created as a wine glass, therefore it is.

by waltonsh » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:03 am

Ha ha, liked the gist of your post, but would like to see:

A $5 digital watch that lasts for 150 years,
A Hyundai with the same power and handling as a Jaguar,
Lard that tastes like goose liver
A triangle that can churn out as many notes as a piano.

Not to mention I do not argue that aesthetics are not important, only believe that the stem for the at-home wine glass is there only for that reason. If you would prever to drink out of a 200ml glass wine-glass with a stem than a 500ml crystal wine-glass with perfectly designed shape without one, then go for it. After all, they both do the same thing.

As to the quote below, I own the 'O' series Shiraz glasses, and cannot therefore
"underestimate the possibility that holding the glass in your hand will cause partially occluded vision through the now less than pristine glass",
as I have been there, done that, and have never found that the glass becomes overly dirty. Besides that, how many people do you know who will actually hold the glass by the stem for the duration of the drink? For tastings, yes, I agree that the glass is always held by the stem. But as soon as the heat is off, I am sure you would find that most would forget, and pick up a stemmed glass by the bowl at one point or another.

I must again stress that I believe the 'O' series to be an excellent "at home" wine glass.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by Bill Hooper » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:22 am

I wasn't going to get into this, but in the midst of such heated debate, I'm helpless. I agree that at a formal dinner, or tasting, or another event where the wine and food is the focus of the evening, there is no substitute for a stem. However, there are other times. Times like sitting at a cafe for a lazy lunch, in good company, watching the MF river roll by where a stem is unnecessary. It's times like these, where wine simply adds a little to the moment, that a glass of Rose, or a light and pleasant red are just fine for tumblers. Riedel did a good job of making casual tumblers that still bring out the flavor and aroma of wine better than a highball glass.

Prost!
-Bill
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Re: WineAdvisor: Does a wine glass need a stem?

by karenann8sons » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:28 am

I agree with Cynthia and while I sit here sipping my Cotes du Rhone, I am feeling very relaxed at contemplative at the end of the day ~

Karen
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
Ernest Dowson (1867–1900)
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