How to Serve Wine
Written by Tynan Szvetecz
Filed Under: Wine Lifestyle
The flavors of both red and white wines fall apart if they are too warm. It is advisable to chill your reds in the fridge for about twenty minutes before serving them, and whites can generally be left in the fridge altogether. When in doubt, it's better to serve the wine colder and let it warm in the glass than to serve it too warm.
More flavorful, fuller bodied white wines can be served at a slightly warmer temperature than bone dry whites. There are an impressive amount of wine coolers on the market that allow you to temperature control the environment your favorite wines. If you have room for it, pick one up! They can add a great deal of enjoyment to your wine drinking experience - just be sure that there is an actual barrier separating the red wine and white wine compartments. Simply stacking the reds on the top portions of the cooler in the hopes that the air will be warmer there will could make your reds too cold and your whites too warm. Most reputable coolers have separate temperature controls for both types of wine.
Choose Your Glasses
Prevailing wisdom on the subject of wine glasses advises that it is in everybody's interest to show the wine the proper respect by serving it in a tulip shaped glass with a longer, slender stem. It is recommended that the glass be clear in order to best view the color and body of the wine as it is pored and sipped. However, we are going to take this a bit further and suggest that you have to balance the respect you show the wine with the respect you show the occasion.
As world cultures blend and star chefs inspire us with their innovative, fusion like cuisine, more and more types of meals can be enjoyed with more types of wine. Today, it is not uncommon for a big Australian Grenache to be brought out for a barbeque or a fun and fizzy champagne to accompany fish and chips. There are more styles of wine glasses than ever before, so don't be afraid to make the glass casual if it fits the mood. Tumblers for barbeques, boxes for Asian food and Dixie cups for picnics are all perfectly acceptable!
One thing to keep in mind with whatever glass you choose is to be sure you give the wine space - it's best to fill a glass no more than half way in order to give the aromas some room to come out.
If you are using stemware, be wary of the type of detergent you use to clean them and how you store them. Detergent residue can negatively impact the flavor and aroma of wine - if possible, wash your glasses in hot water with no detergent at all and air dry them. Store them upright so odors in your cabinet are not trapped in the glass.
There are a number of reasons to decant your wine, not the least of which is that it's fun and can add style to an event. It can also help to remove sediment in wines, particularly aged wines, and it helps the wine breathe. This allows its aromas to interact with the oxygen in the air and become more noticeable.
Choose a decanter that suits your style. Like wine glasses, decanters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, some plain and other wonderfully ornate. We find that decanting is particularly fun for family style events and opt for plain, unimposing decanters that remind us that we should keep our focus on the celebration rather than fanciness. For more formal occasions we opt to keep the bottle at the table!
Breathing refers to allowing the wine to come in contact with the oxygen in the air. For some wines, this allows the full aromas and flavors to come to the surface. Keep in mind that too much oxygen can dull the flavors. Giving certain wines an hour or so before drinking them can do wonders to open-up their flavor and aroma.
There are a number of pervasive myths regarding wine breathing that we would like to set straight. The first is that all wine benefits from breathing, which is patently false. Some reds, particularly big Bordeaux, well-made Syrah/Shiraz and Italian Barolos benefit greatly from having some time to open-up. Barring these players, most wines can be drunk immediately, and white wine in particular will not benefit at all from having time to breathe.
The second major myth is that wine can breathe in the bottle. Simply popping the cork will do little to allow it to breathe, since so little of the wine is able to interact with the air. Allow wine to breathe either in a decanter or your glass.
There are three major methods to preserving leftover wine, the first is simply recorking it and putting it in the refrigerator. If possible, poring the leftover wine into a half bottle and then putting in the fridge is ideal, as the fuller the bottle the less oxygenation can occur. Keep in mind that white wine can last a great deal longer (a week even) than red wine (simply recorking red wine and putting it in the fridge may give you two days - three at the most).
The second method is to vacuum pump the wine with a special pump. This sucks out the air in the bottle and seals it for later use. The wine should still be placed in the fridge, but can last for several days in this fashion.
The last method is a variation on the second, which involves filling up the unused portion of the wine bottle with a special gas that prevents oxygen from interacting with the wine. These canisters are easy to use and can be found at most wine merchants.