anthony giglio’s secret weapon: a china marker for home entertaining

At a dinner party at wine writer Anthony Giglio’s house one evening, we saw him scribble the name of each guest on their wine glass with a white marker: a chic way of helping guests keep tab of their glass in a crowd (and avoiding unnecessary pours – and washing – of fresh glasses).

There’s a brilliant idea, we thought. So we asked Anthony what that marker was and where to get it.

Here is the story of his big fat improvisation, and the many ways you can use it :

“The China Marker is my secret weapon: I bring them to dinner parties as host gifts.

It is not really a marker; it’s a wax or grease pencil –  sort of tacky when you write on paper with it – and writes perfectly on glass or china.

The idea was born at our office for the Food & Wine Magazine’s Wine Guide (back in 2009; I’ve since written 2010 and am writing 2011).We originally marked prices with Sharpie markers on the back label of every bottle submitted for analysis, including double bottles (i.e. “1 of 2” or “2 of 2”) — in case the first bottle was corked, or “off.”  The problem was, after we’d pared down choices based on price and geography, unopened bottles that weren’t tasted for the guide were permanently “branded” with our info — which was unfortunate…

…I remembered that my Sicilian grandparents used china markers to write on Mason jars for tomato canning when I was a kid in Jersey City, and lightning struck: let’s write the price and quantity on each bottle with a white china marker, and then we can simply wipe it off if/when we’re done…






Tara Mann

Not long after, at a dinner party at our house one night, I wanted to set the table with place cards, but didn’t have time OR cards handy, so I thought: ‘I’ll just write on the glass in front of each place setting’…

From there it was easy to make the leap to writing on each glass as guests walked in for all parties going forward. I’d never have to use those cheesy stemware rings – each with a little charm dangling from it –  ever again. (My friends and I used to joke that after a few glasses of wine, we’d forget which “charm” was ours anyway, i.e: Was I the race car or the garbage truck?’)

Bottom line, the china marker comes off easily with soap and water, but I put my glasses in the dishwasher and don’t have to worry about a thing: the machine cleans them easily every time.”

Anthony recommends a Phano China Marker. A box of twelve (6 to 12 swell house gifts) costs under $6!

Thanks, Anthony!

3 Responses to anthony giglio’s secret weapon: a china marker for home entertaining

  1. Annie B. Copps 08.30.2011 at 9:50am #

    Loving your site, of course, and double OF COURSE, l-o-v-e our Anthony. The china marker is a great trick–sharpies work, too and also wipe off. I find that sometimes the china markers smudge or leave a bit of residue–could be the Boston water! Either way it’s FAR better than those frightening wine charms!


  2. Sally 08.30.2011 at 10:11am #

    HI Annie, thank you for the perfect word to describe wine charms: “frightening”, especially after you’ve had a glass or two. And who can ever remember which charm is theirs? …Windex’ll take care of any residue…but I think maybe it IS the Boston water…..


  1. Best Gear for Parties | INNOVATIVE HOME - 12.01.2015

    […] with soap and water (or in the dishwasher) at the end of the night. Wine writer Anthony Giglio told Improvised Life, “The china marker is my secret weapon: I bring them to dinner parties as host […]

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