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Lesson 3Choosing Stemware and Setting a Table

While the most important factor in whether or not you enjoy a glass of wine is the wine itself—not what you’re drinking it from—to get the most out of your wine drinking experience, it is important to know how to choose and use the right stemware for a given varietal.

First off, the popular stemmed vs. stemless debate. Is one really better than the other? It’s really a matter of personal preference, but there are a few key differences. Both types of glasses swirl, aerate, and release esters in the wine to equal effect. However, stemmed glasses do have the advantage of not heating up the wine as quickly with your hand when held properly by the stem. With stemless glasses, it’s best to hold the glass a little higher, above where the wine is, to avoid warming it too much.

When trying to match a certain type of stemware with a certain type of wine, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • With bold reds, like our SAVANT, you’ll want a traditional red wine glass with a large bowl with more height to allow the ethanol to dissipate and let more oxygen in, which encourages the tannins to soften.
  • With white wines, like our Sauvignon Blanc, or Rosés, like our JUSTIN Rosés, go for a traditional white wine glass with a narrow rim, which helps concentrate the aromas. These wines are also typically served at colder temperatures than their red counterparts, so the smaller bowl helps keep the temperature down.
  • When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a traditional Bordeaux wine glass like our JUSTIN universal wine glass.

Now that you’re an expert on choosing which glasses to use, where do they go when you’re setting the table? When setting a table, the first rule of thumb is to only put out the pieces your guests will actually need to enjoy their meal—now’s not the time to show off your fancy stemware that won’t actually be used. For example, if you’re only serving JUSTIN SAVANT, only set out a Bordeaux glass.

To get started, place the water glasses to the right of the plate, just above the main dining knife, and set wine glasses to the right of the water glasses in the order in which they’ll be used. As for utensils, don’t be overwhelmed—there are really just a few rules to live by:

  • Forks go on the left.
  • Knives go on the right.
  • Soup spoons go to the right of the knives.
  • Lay out your silverware in the order in which it’ll be used, working from the outside in.
  • Dessert utensils go above the plate.

If you happen to forget which side of the plate to place bread and drinks on, a helpful trick is to put your index finger to your thumb on both hands. The hand that makes a “b” (on the left side) is where the bread goes, and the hand that makes a “d” (on the right side) is where the drinks go.

When choosing stemware, remember, these are tips and guidelines, not laws etched in stone. As with all things wine-related, your personal preference is what matters most. And again, the wine itself matters much more than the glass, so if for some reason you find yourself drinking wine from a paper cup, as long as it’s a JUSTIN wine, chances are that you’ll still enjoy every sip.


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