Proper Stemware is a No-Brainer
We have now been proudly selling Riedel Crystal for 8 years. We sincerely feel that during that time, we have helped enhance scores of beverage programs in countless restaurants—not just with wine glasses, but with cocktail programs as well (if you’ve not looked at their ‘Drink Specific Glassware’ you should).
Riedel is the pioneer of varietal specific stemware, which it now seems a dozen + other manufacturers have emulated, but Riedel is still the OG. And unlike the copy-cats, Riedel offers numerous variations in style and price, giving operators some artistic freedom while still honoring the mission of varietal performance. They also have a few ‘all purpose’ or ‘wine friendly’ lines: the new-ish 001, 002, 003 set is worth checking out.
Everyone we have ever presented Riedel to acknowledges the beauty, quality, and performance of the glasses, though we sometimes hear a couple of objections: price & durability. On durability, that’s an easy one: yes, they break. But they don’t jump of the tables. Feedback/data we’ve received from Riedel cites that virtually all breakage is human error. The two biggest culprits are polishing and putting the glasses in dish racks. On the latter, its as simple as training the staff to be just a bit more gentle when placing dirty glasses in their racks. We know in ‘the heat of battle’ on a Saturday night, service can be hectic, and glasses are sometimes just dropped into the racks…and yes, breakage can occur. Simply reminding the staff can make a big difference. As for polishing, check out any long-term server in a top restaurant (those places that care enough to polish their glasses) and they typically will have a scar (or two) on their wrists—incurred when using an incorrect/unsafe method to polish stemmed glasses. Just ask us and we’ll be happy to train your staff on proper procedure.
As for cost, for sure there are wine glasses available that cost less than Riedel, though we use the term wine glasses loosely here; we have seen some ‘wine glasses’ that seem more like blunt objects than wine glasses…as in Colonel Mustard in the Library with a wine glass. And of course, there are many wine glasses that are considerably more than the mid-range series of Riedel’s glasses: the rightly esteemed, and super-fragile Zalto glasses spring to mind. But for the quality, consistency, and message that Riedel delivers is unequalled. Add to this is the fact that for competitors like Spieglau, Schott-Zweisel, and Stolzle, prices are similar (it costs pretty much the same to produce a quality glass for all), so why use an imposter when you can use the real thing? The best way to assess what wine glasses cost a business is to determine a ‘per use’ cost, just as one would determine the cost of a menu item. We have seen estimates that a Riedel glass has a ‘life span’ of 300 or 400 uses in a restaurant. Using that metric, this means that if a glass costs $7.00 and it gets used 300 times before it breaks (due to human error), the ‘cost per use’ is 2.3 cents. When selling a glass of wine for $10, $12, $15 a glass, 2 cents seems pretty reasonable. Unlike with airlines today, it doesn’t cost much more to fly first class with your wine glass selection.