To get full enjoyment from your white wines, it is critical that you store and serve them properly.
Storing White Wine
For short-term storage of wine, either white or red, there is no special technique required. But if you are looking to store your wine for a period of weeks or months, you need to take greater care. Wine sellers will tell you that there are four factors you need to consider for optimal wine storage: temperature, light, vibration and cork condition.
Temperature is very important when storing any wine. Aim for a temperature of 45ºF – 50ºF for white wine. Beyond the actual number on the thermometer, you also need to consider consistency of temperature – wild fluctuations in temperature are not good for wine.
Wine lasts longer if kept in a dark place. Light from any source – household lighting or sunlight – can damage wine. Keep wine in a dark room with the door closed, or store it in a box with the lid closed.
Keeping your wine on a rack where the kids are running around or where you are regularly vacuuming is not a good idea. Not only is there more chance for breakage, there is more vibration, which can disturb the wine. Try to store wine in a quiet place.
You may know that wine should be stored on its side, but you may not know why. When it’s on its side, the wine reaches the cork and keeps it moist. Dry corks shrink and let in air, which can have detrimental effects on the taste of the wine. And, if the cork does not fit tightly, the wine itself can leak out. Now that wineries are experimenting with plastic corks and screw caps (even on fine wines), the issue of keeping the cork moist may become irrelevant.
Serving White Wine
For the record, I am no wine connoisseur and offer no finesse when serving wine. At my house, wine is poured and drunk as soon as we open it. We use the same cheap IKEA wine glasses whether the wine is white or red. In the interests of experimentation, I followed the advice below for white wine and I have to admit that there was a distinct improvement in the flavor of the wine.
As with wine storage, temperature is key when serving. A former wine auctioneer at Christie’s has an easy-to-remember guideline: “Twenty minutes before dinner, you take the white wine out of the fridge and put the red wine in.” White wine that is too cold is bland, but if it’s too warm it can have a strong alcoholic taste. For most whites, it is best to refrigerate them for at least an hour and a half, and then remove them for 20 minutes before serving.
Aeration is suitable for whites, but is more of a requirement for reds. If you choose to aerate your white wine, do so in a glass and not in the bottle – the narrow neck of the bottle allows too little air into the wine to be effective.
The shape of the glass you serve wine in improves the taste of the wine by directing it to the appropriate sensors on the tongue, and by ensuring that the aroma of the wine is funneled up to the nose. For white wines, a glass with a small rim and volume is better. And when drinking, always hold the glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine.