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Blog: Wine by the Glass should indicate Quantity

Posted: Tuesday, 13 August 2013 11:03

Blog: Wine by the Glass should indicate Quantity

Aug 13: A good restaurant wine list ought to have a Wine by the Glass programme to increase sales and promote wine culture as well but there are still many challenges, not mentioning the standard quantity of pour in the list being one. An Online Poll conducted by the Indian Wine Academy indicates that practically all wine drinkers would like the quantity to be explicitly mentioned on the list.

Although most restaurant lists mention the standard pour for a glass of liquor as 30 mL (more frequent-small) or 60 mL (less frequent-large), it is rare to see the quantity mentioned for a glass of wine. More often than not, the stand-alone restaurants serve 125 mL as a standard drink whereas the 5-star hotels serve 150 mL as the standard pour though there is no diktat on the measure from the excise laws. Unlike a minority of restaurants overseas serving 175 mL and unsubstantiated rumours of some restaurants in UK serving 250 mL or even 375 mL, which could be conveniently served in a carafe unless the customer deludes himself or herself into believing that a glass of wine, no matter what the size, is acceptable socially and is healthy.

Keeping in view that many customers feel awkward to ask the sommelier about the standard pour lest they might be considered a novice and in order to gauge the opinion of the viewers, we asked the closed group on Facebook of the Indian Wine Academy whose members are considered to be wine savvy or at least wine lovers, whether a good restaurant wine should disclose the pour size by printing in the list or there was no need to print as one could always ask the Sommelier/waiter in case of doubt.

The respondents were also given the choice of indicating whether the restaurants should simply print and stick to the quantity explicitly and voluntarily or they must be obliged to report the pour size to the Weights and Measures Department of the government. A third of the respondents were such sticklers of the rules and non-believers in the restaurants that they wanted the declared quantity to be printed and be strictly under the control of the concerned department in order to deter the errant or less-than-honest restaurants. The clear majority of 59% of the voters was in favour of restaurants mentioning the quantity but keeping the government out of it. The horrifying experience of every government agency in the chain being a spoke in the wheel and perceived as a hurdle, made the respondents in this category wary of getting the government’s involvement.

Only about 7% felt there was no need to mention the pour size and the doubting customers could simply ask the waiter the relevant question. The supporters  of Laissez-Faire  were from the professional category of Sommelier, Restaurateurs.

One member who shuttles between Delhi and London explained, ‘they should be required by law to state the measure on the wine list. In many restaurants in Europe they use commercial bar glasses lightly marked with short measure lines (125 - 150 - 175 etc), which makes life easy for the barman and server. The government in India controls all aspects of alcohol, so this requirement is hardly going to cause any additional hardship.’

To a suggestion that it should be voluntary, another one argued ‘it does not seem like a hardship and would remove ambiguity. What is the harm in stating the pour quantity? I think the customers understand that the pour is not exact, but they should be informed if it is approx 125ml or 150ml.’

Interestingly, during an informal chat with a senior officer of the weights and measurement department on another occasion, it appeared that the department was not aware of the issue. It would definitely be covered under the weights and measures statute, explained the officer. However, knowing the hardship it might create for the restaurants and hotels, he hinted that it was not a matter of importance for the department and only if someone complained about a fraud being committed at some venue, they would keep their eyes shut.

For an earlier article reflecting another Poll regarding the Serving Portion for wines, visit: Indian Cognoscenti Reject Wine in Aluminium Can

Subhash Arora


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