Ask Adam: Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?


Ask Adam
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Ask Adam: Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?

Illustration By Danielle Grinberg

Email questions to Adam at: advice@VinePair.com

Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?

This is a great question that most people actually don’t know the answer to, so I’m really glad you asked it! The stem of a wine glass isn’t there simply to make the glass look prettier or make it easier to break. Instead, the stem is what you’re supposed to be holding when you drink your wine. Temperature, whether the wine is red, white, or bubbly, is very important to a wine, especially an expensive one, so it’s essential that if the wine was served at the correct temperature, it only warms slightly while it’s in the glass and you are consuming it. Our hands radiate heat, so if you’re holding the glass by the bulb, or drinking wine out of a glass without a stem, you’re warming the wine. A stem allows you to hold the glass without warming the wine inside. And it also makes it much easier to swirl the wine inside, too.

My wife and I always end up paying more than our share when we go out to dinner with friends. She and I share a meal, and our friends each order their own mains, salads, and appetizers. How do we bring up this difference when the bill comes?

This is an incredibly tricky question. While I completely understand your desire to pay less, as you ordered less, this is never an easy situation to broach. Etiquette states that the best approach here is to do what your friends are already doing, split the bill equally. If this doesn’t feel fair to you, your best approach is to address the issue with your friends and simply explain that you order far less than them, so don’t feel it’s fair to share in the full fee of the bill. Just be prepared for an awkward conversation.

Can I use bourbon if a recipe calls for rye?

All whiskey is whiskey, so you can sub them in recipes, but know when you do that these whiskeys all have different flavor profiles. Bourbon, which is made mostly from corn, is often a sweeter whiskey, whereas rye has a bit more spice. If you sub bourbon for rye you will get a sweeter cocktail, which you should especially be aware of it the recipe also called for sugar or simple syrup. In a cocktail with rye, the addition of sugar can help balance the drink, but if you instead opt to use bourbon, it’s possible it could make the drink more cloying.

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