Last Updated on February 9, 2021 by Bill Allen
How to Serve Wine the “Upscale” Way!
Good wine is the product of labor, passion, luck, and a centuries old art-form of growing a quality product. It is art that you can taste. Hence, great considerations should be taken when serving wine. Would you hang a Picasso just anywhere?
Serving wine involves understanding the kinds of glasses that work with different styles of wine, recognizing how temperature differences can affect the flavor of the wine, and decanting your wine to ensure quality. Wine accessories make serving wine at tasting parties a cinch.
Look through this site to learn all you need to know about providing your closest friends with the most positive wine experience at your next party.
The major variety of wine accessories available to wine lovers today can make keeping track of wine simple, storing wine decorative, and serving wine easy. Especially during a taste testing party, wine accessories like pouring discs, coasters and a spittoon can be very helpful.
Pouring discs are a useful way to avoid drips and messes while pouring wine for friends across a table. Decanters come in many shapes and sizes and can double as a decorative touch to any home decor. Accessories such as bottle collars and neck labels can help identify wines even when they’ve been decanted.
Decanting is made easier with accessories such as wine thieves, decanting funnels and mechanical decanting cradles. In fact, an endless array of possible gadgets designed to make wine drinking easier are available to consumers.
However, before investing in these trinkets, it is important to keep in mind that wine is meant to be one of life’s simple pleasures.
Unlike other alcoholic beverages, wine does freeze. Hence, putting a bottle of wine in the freezer for any longer than 15 minutes is not the best way to chill wine. In fact, for a quick chill, even the refrigerator is not as good an option as a quality wine cooler.
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Wine is typically ready to serve at around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. A bucket filled with ice and water can serve as a great chiller for wine. Ice cubes alone will not serve this purpose.
Placing the wine bottle in this type of contraption for around 15 minutes ensures your wine will be ready to serve.
Wine coolers act both as chillers and insulators for keeping wine cool throughout dinner or a party.
Wine coolers can come in stainless steel or as gel-filled wrapables where the gel package can be frozen and wrapped around a bottle to keep it cool.
Heavy red wines like Bordeaux, California Cabernet and Rhone should be served at around 68 degrees, medium reds like Pinot Noir, Rioja, and Zinfandel are best around 64 degrees, and light reds such as Beaujolais are great at around 60 degrees.
White wines are best served at temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees and Champagne and roses are best at around 45 degrees. Check out our reviews of the best wine coolers if you’re a big white wine fan and like your wines stored at the perfect temperature.
Decanting is the process of pouring out a bottle of wine into another container, known as a wine decanter, while holding it over a light source. The light source allows you to see the sediment coming up and therefore immediately stop the process.
Although decanting a bottle of wine is not an absolute necessity, older red wines and very young wines should be decanted for quality purposes. In older wines, sediments tend to accumulate and disrupt the clarity of the wine.
Younger wines are especially tannin and decanting them several times helps mix them with the air them and soften the overall flavor.
Older bottles of wine should be set upright for several hours or days before opening and decanting ensue. This helps the sediment collect at the bottom of the bottle and makes it easier to decant.
Decanting a smaller amount into a wine glass is a good idea when drinking alone. Leaving a glass of wine sitting out for couple hours will help it oxidize and release its full aromas.
Older wines should be enjoyed immediately after decanting whereas younger wines need to be set aside in the decanter for a few hours.
Young wines also don’t have to be decanted as carefully as older wines. Decanters come in many shapes, sizes and designs.
A couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing a decanter include the clarity and heft of the glass.
The wine glass is a key part of the entire wine tasting experience.
Although there are certain shapes for certain wines, the main thing to avoid when choosing glasses is non-clear, or tinted, glass.
If you need to understand the difference between red and white wine glasses, check out our article.
The clarity of the glass allows the full color of the wine to be admired against the wine pairing of the food.
For beginners, the two basic styles to start out with involve the classic red wine glass and the Champagne glass.
The classic red wine glass has a wide bowl that makes it easy for the aromas of the wine to come through. This is a good choice for many different varieties of table wine including port and sherry.
The Champagne, or sparkling wine glass has a narrow shape that prevents the bubbles from escaping too quickly and preserves the aroma of the wine.
Other traditional glasses include the white wine glass, which is a slightly smaller version of the red wine glass because white wine aromas aren’t typically as strong as red wine aromas.
Wines that absolve of their bouquets more quickly, such as Burgundys and Pino Noirs, are traditionally served in a glass with a wider bowl and tapered sides.
This allows maximum enjoyment of all aromas.
The Red Bordeaux glass is one of the largest and has tapered sides whereas the port glass is small and tapered. Port is fortified and therefore, is not typically served in such large quantities.
The sherry glass, or copita, is smaller than the port and is narrower with less tapering at the sides. It is easier to know how much to fill a glass when the traditional glasses are used in accordance with their wines.
However, a wine glass should almost always be filled about two-thirds full. Champagne and sparkling wine flutes can be filled nearly to the top whereas wine tasting soirees usually involve glasses that are only one thirds full.
The International Standards Organization developed their own wine glass for tasting known as the “ISO.” This large bowled, yet thin glass with fairly straight sides makes enjoying the full range of aromas in any wine easy regardless of the wine’s region.
Cleaning and storing wine glasses can be tricky. It is important to always wash, rinse and dry the glasses carefully in order to make sure foreign smells and residues do not make their way into your next wine tasting experience.
Using detergent is not recommended as even tiny traces of detergent can ruin a good sparkling wine. Storing glasses in a closed cupboard standing upright is the best way to keep musty odors from settling into the bowl.
As soon as the cork is pulled, wine begins to deteriorate. This deterioration extracts from the quality of the wine, making it lose much of its flavor and aroma. For this reason, leftover wine can only be stored for about three days before it has lost much of its original quality.
Although methods of delaying this deterioration including vacuum pumps, nitrogen injections, and decanting are widely used, refrigerating often works just as well or better. Leave the wine in its original bottle, cork it and place in a dark, cool refrigerator.
Remember that the majority of wines produced for the general population are meant to last no longer than one or two years.
Champagnes and sparkling wines are best sealed with a bottle stopper and can be enjoyed right out of the refrigerator much like white wines.
It is best to allow leftover red wine to warm before drinking. Keep in mind that older wines will lose their composition much quicker than younger wines.
Sometimes a good party can distract anyone from the fact that they’ve got a bottle of wine sitting in the freezer.
Although microwaving is an appropriate method of warming wine, it is not usually the best controlled. Although it does not necessarily ruin the wine, overheating can cause a change in flavor.
For example, whereas the wine was originally fresh, vibrant and young tasting, overheated, it can have an earthy, more subtle flavor with less tannic.
For an alternative method, run a decanter under hot water until the glass is warm to hot. Then, decant the wine from the bottle into the decanter. This should warm the wine sufficiently enough for it to be enjoyed. Another way wine can be warmed is by simply leaving in out in a few glasses and allowing the warmth of the room to help it warm up.