Entertaining and Storage
While it may seem a trivial thing, serving wine correctly can add enjoyment to any occasion, from a casual get-together with friends to a more formal dinner party. Here are some helpful tips you should know about preparing, serving and pouring wine, and the types of wine glasses suitable for the wines served.
Wine Serving Temperatures
The temperature at which a wine is served has an immense impact on its taste. Serving wine cool will mask some imperfections—good for young or inexpensive wines-while a warmer wine temperature allows expression of the wine's characteristics-best with an older or more expensive wine.
A bottle of wine will cool four degrees Fahrenheit for every ten minutes in the refrigerator, and will warm at about this same rate when removed from the refrigerator and left at room temperature (of course, the temperature of the room will affect the speed with which the wine warms up). If you need to chill a bottle of wine in a hurry, 20 minutes in the freezer will do the trick. Generally white wines are best served around 45°F, while red wines are better served between 50°F and 60°F.
Decanting is pouring wine into another vessel before serving. Decanting is commonly used with older wines or Ports, which contain sediment that can add bitterness to the wine. Wine decanters allow the wine to breathe and may improve the flavor of older red wines. Younger wines also benefit from the aeration and rest that decanting provides, but for some a wine decanter is used simply for aesthetic reasons.
Before decanting a wine that contains sediment let the bottle rest upright, allowing any sediment to sink to the bottom. Then slowly pour the wine into the decanter, keeping the bottle angled to prevent any sediment from making its way into the decanter.
Still wines (as opposed to sparkling wines, like Champagne) should be poured towards the center of the glass. Sparkling wines should be poured against the side to preserve bubbles. To control drips, twist the bottle slightly as you tilt it upright.
When pouring wine, fill the glass no more than two-thirds (about 5-6 ounces). This will allow your guests to swirl the wine and smell the bouquet. A glass can always be refilled if desired. At a dinner party, serve wine to the women and older guests first, then the men, and end with your own glass
Equally important to decanting is the type of wine glasses in which wines are served. The shape of a wine glass can impact the taste of the wine, and for this reason different types of wine are served in different glasses.
The three main types of wine glasses are:
- White wine glasses: tulip shaped
- Red wine glasses: more rounded with a larger bowl
- Sparkling wine flutes: tall and thin
A suitable all-purpose wine glass should hold 10 ounces, be transparent to allow the taster to examine the color of the wine and its body, and have a slight curve in at the top to hold in the bouquet. Remember, too big a glass is better than too small, and the thinner the glass (or crystal) the better.
A common mistake by wine purchasers is improper storage. Although most wines improve with time, the care in storing wine bottles is tantamount to how well the wine will age.
Light, temperature, and humidity can all negatively affect wine. If a wine refrigerator or cellar is not available, just be sure that the storage space does not directly expose bottles to sunlight, large amounts of heat (this can cause the cork to actually pop slightly out of the neck), or severe cold. Also bear in mind the importance of the cork in the life of the bottle of wine. A wine is considered "corked" if the cork has dried out and crumbles when the bottle is opened. This means the wine has most likely been exposed to harmful amounts of oxygen and other elements and will taste tainted.
After a bottle has been opened there are several methods of preserving the wine. Wine stoppers are easily removable seals, Vacuvin and other oxygen reducing tools will better protect the liquid itself from excessive oxygen contact during storage. Even a small amount of oxygen in the bottle can lead to tainted wine.