When your guests order wine by the glass, do they know exactly how much they are getting? Across New Zealand wine by the glass has become increasingly popular but at the same time, professional pouring skills seem to be lagging behind, while consumers are becoming more aware of just how much wine should be in their glass.
“I’ll have a glass of the ….sauvignon blanc,” says the guest. Do you pour their glass of wine away from the table and measure its contents, estimate its contents or do you pour their wine at the table after showing them the bottle’s label and have the skill to pour the correct amount? Wine glasses today vary so much in size and shape that what looks like a fair amount of wine in one glass can actually look like an ‘under-pour’ in another glass which may leave your guest wondering how much they are getting. And if they don’t see the label on the wine being served, how do they know for sure that they are getting the wine they ordered?
Wine by the glass has become a very popular way of drinking alcohol in light of drink-driving, and also for people wanting to experience different wines. However, there has to be a time when we approach this element of service seriously. It has become not only annoying but also unacceptable that the buyer of the wine does not know how much wine he or she is getting.
In virtually everything else we purchase there is information on how much the contents are. What about wine? The buyer doesn’t have any indication when they buy a glass of wine how much wine they are going to get. There is a general understanding that it will be 150mils but that amount is not printed on the beverage list and if you ask the waiter, will they know the amount?
I went to a restaurant recently and asked for a glass of wine and I asked the waiter how much was in my glass. She put two fingers up to demonstrate a measure between the thumb and forefinger to indicate the centimetres of wine. So based on the size of the glass, I have no idea how much wine I’m getting.
We have to deal with this issue in a way so that there is a regulated standard pour. It may be that we need legislation to achieve this or it may be that as an industry we set the standard and operate within it.
As you know in most European countries there is a line on the glass which tells you how much you are getting, but this doesn’t seem to exist in New Zealand. I think the legislator has to say to the restaurateur that if you sell wine by the glass you must state the quantity on the wine list. If you write wine by the glass 150mils or 250mils then the buyer not only knows how much they are getting but it means that they can also calculate out how many glasses of wine they can have within their drink-drive limit.
Because what is happening now is, as we are getting bigger and bigger glasses it looks like less wine. It looks like the tide is out.
I did a test the other day with five different glasses and I had the same amount in each glass. And a lot of the people I was showing it to said, ‘wow that’s a lot of wine, it’s filled to the rim’ and in one of the other glasses the wine only covered to 25% of the glass.
So the perception is not a real one and it is not good for the operator because when you get a glass of wine, you pay up to about $90 for a the bottle so it’s not cheap but there are good profit margins there, and there are excellent profit margins by the glass, but if you see a big glass that is only quarter full then you think ‘wow, have I been ripped off?’. It is not fair because if you put the same amount in a smaller glass, the glass is nearly half full. You have to tell the guest how much they are getting.
Make it clear!
- put the ‘wine by the glass’ quantity on the wine list
- use glasses that have a mark indicating the quantity
- make sure your waiters know the quantity in volume
Providing wine in the small individual serve bottles would be another way of supplying a controlled volume of wine with all the relevant information on the bottle and is certainly worth considering.
I would also like to encourage operators to train their waiters in the art of pouring wine at the table. My wife and I recently experienced this and it added to the enjoyment of our dining experience.
We had ordered different wines and the waiter came to our table, showed us each our bottle of wine then poured our glasses. I had to wonder about the volume in each glass but it was actually spot-on. It was the same volume for both wines.
So I would like to encourage the operator to adopt the philosophy of presenting the wine, pour it to either a mark or the practiced skill of volume and if you are serving a new wine during dining, use a new glass.
Last time I spoke about the casualness that is slipping into our hospitality service. By presenting the wine you will bring back some of the professionalism of being a waiter, it can be a good selling point for your establishment, you will provide an opportunity for our excellent New Zealand winemakers to showcase their wines to your guests without the need to buy a bottle and your quests will enjoy the experience.