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Basics Of Serving Wine and Glassware

Wine Serving & Glassware Basics


As much as you want to open a bottle of wine and pour it into a glass as soon as possible, you should know that serving wine is an art form, meaning it needs to be handled with elegance, precision, and grace. Of course, no one’s stopping you from doing the former, but doing it abruptly may result in quality loss, ultimately ruining your experience. Since this drink needs your utmost attention, both in tasting and serving, you must do it right from the beginning. And today, we will be teaching you how to do that.


Picking The Perfect Glasses



As you know, half of the pleasure that comes from drinking wine is derived exclusively from the glass. However, while you may believe that all glasses work for all wine varieties, you are incredibly mistaken. Just imagine serving your finest aged red in a simple champagne flute - just doesn’t feel right, doesn’t it? Interestingly enough, this belief goes all the way back to the late 80s, when an Austrian glass maker, Georg Riedel, designed affordable crystal glasses called Vinum and they came in various shapes, suited for different types of wine. Many were confused over this, saying that the type of glass didn’t make any difference, Georg believed otherwise. To prove his point, he started organising wine glass tastings, showing just how much the glass contributed to the overall experience. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t have been more right and even beginner wine drinkers started noticing the difference. Then, in 1996, Georg was awarded as Decanter Man of The Year for completely revolutionising serving wine of the modern world.


Back to our point, this doesn’t mean that you should run to the nearest store and buy a ridiculously expensive line of crystal wine glasses. On the contrary, even budget ones will do the trick - you only need to ensure that your glass cabinet has variety. Namely, you should have a few glasses with slim stems and well-rounded openings for your reds, along with narrower ones for whites. Don’t forget the flutes - sparkling varieties like champagne and prosecco taste heavily in them!


Perfecting The Temperature



No matter our preferences, we can all agree that lukewarm sodas taste less than ideal, right? Well, this goes to show you just how much temperatures affect the drinking experience, especially when it comes to wine. In fact, some fine wines with heavy floral scents lose their aroma when placed in overly cool temperatures, as well as too warm ones. For that reason, you should always try to achieve the perfect temperature for serving wine.


Granted, sometimes this might be a little hard to do if you don’t have a special wine thermometer. In that case, you can just pop the wine into the fridge for 15 minutes for it to chill, and you may even leave some white varieties for longer as well! Just try not to forget about it - you have no idea how common this is!

Check out the list below to get a better understanding of the ideal wine serving temperatures

  • Sweet white wines - 6-8 C;

  • Light dry wines - 8-10 C;

  • Rich white wines - 11-13 C;

  • Light reds - 14-16 C;

  • Medium to high-alcohol reds - 14-16 C;

  • Acidic roses - 8-10 C;

  • Full-bodied roses - 10-12 C;

  • Sparkling wines - 8 - 10 C.


Opening A Wine Bottle



Now, you may be confused about why there’s an entire section dedicated to opening a wine bottle as it is already simple enough as it is. However, we both know that you’ve been in situations where the cork “accidentally” falls into the bottle and starts to fall apart, leaving you to sip wine with cork pieces. Yeah, not your best moment.


The reason why that might have happened is because you haven’t mastered the art of opening wines. You need to be really careful how you handle the corkscrew, as one wrong move can result in… well, you already know the answer to this one.


To avoid making the same mistakes once again, poke the cork slightly off-centre and ensure the “swirly” part of the corkscrew is indeed centred as this will prevent the cork from tearing. To keep it from breaking altogether, count how many turns you did. Seven turns hit the best spot, but this number varies, so it’s all about the feel. For instance, you can open certain bottles with just a single screw, while fine-aged varieties have long corks in them, meaning you’ll have to put in your best effort.


Decanting



To decant or not to decant - that is the question. It’s no surprise that decanting elevates the entire wine-tasting experience, however, there are a lot of false beliefs about the practice. For instance, many people confuse decanting with aerating, yet it’s completely different, even though they can be part of the same part of the process. Furthermore, not all wines should be decanted, meaning you’ll have to learn which ones are suitable for it and which can make do by only aerating.


Decanting is mostly used for old, vintage wines due to the sediment that has formed during the ageing process. If you take a close look at the bottle under direct daylight, you’ll see if any sediment is suspended, and if there are elements of it, you can turn to your decanter.


However, you need to be extra careful while doing this. Firstly, pour the wine directly into it - you can use a wine pourer if you don’t want to lose a drop of it during the process. Make sure that none of the sediment comes too close to the bottle’s neck, as a slight mishap can ruin the entire experience. This especially applies to older wines, ones that are too old and fragile to be decanted. In this case, you should leave the bottle to stand upright and let the sediment completely sink to the bottom. Once in the “desired” position, pour the wine very slowly, ensuring none of the sediment goes in the decanter.


Aerating



As the name suggests, aerating means letting the wine sit and breathe for a while before it’s poured. In general, younger, well-structured wines benefit from being aerated as their aromas and flavours come to the forefront, letting them develop strong and interesting characters. Alternatively, older wines shouldn’t be left in contact with air so much, or at all! Too much oxygen can quickly affect their structure, ruining their original taste altogether. 


Finally, the reason why many people confuse aerating with decanting is because they think a decanter is needed for the process. Yes, in some cases, it can be quite beneficial, but you should know that it isn’t a must! You can just open the bottle and let it sit for a few minutes, or pour it into the glass directly, leaving it to breathe from there.


Pouring a Standard Wine Serving



Again, this may seem like an obvious point, but there are still a few rules you need to adhere to. For one, a wine bottle typically has five servings in it, usually consisting of 150 ml. As previously mentioned, you’ll need to find the right glass type for your selected blend, but if you don’t have any special ones on hand, a long-stemmed, clear glass with a rounded bottom will do just fine.


When serving, fill each glass about a third full, at most half-full when pouring red wine. However, this is the limit, meaning everything over this mark will ruin the wine-tasting experience. By pouring too much, the aromas will be subdued and the wine won’t breathe properly, so be vigilant not to go overboard.


Holding A Wine Glass Properly



With the wine in the glass, the next step is to ensure you hold it properly, as this is an essential step in wine-drinking etiquette. We believe most of us have tried doing “The English” holding method with the pinky pointed at the ceiling, and surprisingly, this is somewhat right - with some alterations, of course.


To hold the glass like a true wine connoisseur, grip it at the base. Hold it toward the base of the stem between your thumb and your forefinger, and give it a few good swirls to “wake up” the wine’s flavour profile. If you hold it where the bowl is, your palms can quickly warm up the wine, and you know by now how much temperature affects it.


Wine Preservation


What happens when your dinner party finishes with a few opened bottles? Firstly, you should know that opened wine doesn’t last too long, so you’ll need to pop it back in the fridge. Still, this doesn’t mean that it’s fully preserved as it is still in contact with the air, so you’ll have to finish it quickly or it goes down the drain. Additionally, keep the wine away from direct sunlight and heat sources.


With this, we conclude all there is to know about the basics of serving wine. To have the ultimate experience, follow these tips down to the T and enjoy every sip!


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