Perhaps you have selected an occasion to open that special bottle of wine that you have been saving, or maybe you are hosting a dinner party. Knowing how to properly open, serve, and enjoy your wine will make the experience that much more memorable, as well as allow you to experience the wine that much more fully. Wine service has a few basic elements of importance, including temperature of the wine, opening the bottle, allowing the wine to breathe, choosing glasses, and pouring.
The temperature of the wine when it is served is imperative. White wines should be served chilled, which can be accomplished in your refrigerator. Place your whites in the refrigerator one to two hours before serving, allowing their temperatures to drop to about fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. White wines are served chilled due to their high acidity levels, which are moderated when cooled. Be sure not to store your wine in the fridge, however, as this can destroy the flavor, making it dull and flat. If you do not have two hours to spare, placing the wine in a bucket of ice water will effectively cool the wine.
Red wines are served differently. They can be chilled via refrigerator for thirty to forty-five minutes, until they have reached about sixty-two degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered “room temperature.” Reds are served at a slightly cooler temperature because it slows down the evaporation process, which will improve the bouquet and flavor of the wine. If you serve red wine at an overly-chilled temperature it will take on a bitter taste.
Should you forget about the red wine in the refrigerator and it becomes too cold, there are various remedies to this situation. Try pouring the bottle into a warm decanter or warm wine glasses. If you are in a real jam, you can use the microwave, but use caution; cooked wine is not good. Place the bottle in the microwave for only about fifteen to twenty seconds.
After you have prepared your wine to the proper temperature, it is ready to be opened. Begin by removing the metal foil that surrounds the cork. This can be accomplished with either a specialized foil cutter or a sharp knife. Most all in one corkscrews will be equipped with this type of apparatus. Be sure that no jagged pieces remain, as they can be very sharp and cut your fingers when you are pouring, or cause the wine to dribble out all over. Remove the cork with the corkscrew. Should you experience problems with the cork, such as splitting, you may be left with no choice other than to push the cork back into the bottle. Using a small skewer to hold back the cork, pour the wine into a decanter, straining it with either small vegetable steamer or coffee filter. This will ensure that any damaged cork does not appear in your next glass of wine.
If you are de-corking a sparkling wine or champagne, use caution. These bottles are opened by twisting off a metal guard. Use a spoon to achieve this as it is much easier on your fingers and nails. Untwist the guard carefully, and then pop the cork off with the bottle facing away from yourself and other guests. Be sure not to have shaken up the bottle in the process, or the instantaneous contact with the open air will cause an eruption of your wine.
You may choose to allow your reds to breathe directly after opening, especially for that serious bottle. Pour the wine into a decanter and allow the wine to open up for a couple of hours.
After pouring, you are ready to choose the stem-wear for your wines. The most common of glasses is the tulip shape due to its wide bowl and narrower top with long stem. This makes an ideal glass for swirling the wine, as it gets a lot of movement with little fear of spillage. The narrow top also traps the bouquet, making it more able to deliver the fragrance. A long stem is advisable for holding the glass during enjoyment, as this prevents any change in temperature. Using this type of glass is usually acceptable for both reds and whites, especially if you do not want to have to clean more than one round of glasses.
There are a new variety of wine glasses available; those without stems. They sit up on the bowl of the glass. They allow the wine to breathe wonderfully during consumption and display remarkable aroma. They can cause the drinker to leave fingerprints on the glass as well as change the temperature by constant handling, but the choice is yours.
Be sure to fill your glasses about half way, especially since most of the glasses we use are considerably large. This also gives the wine a chance to breathe upon pouring, as well as allow for swirling. Be sure to serve light bodied before full bodied wines, and young before olds. This keeps the palate fresher longer.