Can we come right out and say it? People congregate where the wine is. Naturally, a holiday shindig needs a solid wine list — one that gets the lips loose and the conversation overflowing. While we like to believe that there are no faux pas when it comes to wine, there are in fact a few guidelines we can follow to help improve wine’s taste. Now why wouldn’t we want that? Never ones to let a good bottle of wine go to waste, here is our simple, no-frills guide on how to serve wine.
Choosing the right wine glasses
We’re prone to obsessing over wine choices but what about the glassware? Glassware most certainly affects wine appreciation—it influences how you perceive the colour, aromas and taste—so matching the shape of your wine glass to the different types of wine will help enhance the wine tasting experience. A clear, crystal wineglass allows you see the wine at its best. Glasses with large bulbs and wider mouths offer greater exposure to air, allowing your wine to ‘breathe’. Pair them with heavy and medium red wines such as burgundy and pinot noir. Tapered glasses that are narrower in shape magnify the wine’s aromas, concentrating the bouquet on the nose. These are best used to serve light reds and aromatic light whites. If budget is a concern, most wine lovers get by with just two sets of wine glasses: a set of champagne flutes and a set of good quality all-purpose glasses that are great for both white and red.
Serving temperatures can dramatically impact the way a wine smells and tastes. Wine that is served too warm will lose its crispness, leaving it flat and flabby. Heat also intensifies the taste of alcohol, which can overwhelm the natural flavours. Serve your wines too cold and the aromas and flavours are likely to end up muted and dull. As a general rule, light dry white wines, rosés and sparkling wines are best served chilled at 40˚ to 50˚ F to retain their freshness and fruitiness. Think crisp Pinot Grigio and Champagne. Full bodied white wines and light, fruity reds flourish at 50˚ to 60˚ F. Take for instance a rich chardonnay or refreshing Beaujolais. Full bodied red wines and Ports should be served at 60˚ to 65˚ F to play down the more bitter or astringent properties in say, a Syrah or Cabernet.
Something as simple as decanting (i.e. transferring) the contents of a wine bottle into a separate vessel can enhance the taste and aroma of the wine. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself. It’s not necessary to use a decanter; a pitcher will accomplish the same. The idea is to aerate a wine to allow the flavours to emerge. The contact the wine has with the air rounds out the wine and improves its flavour. Older wines in particular, tend to develop sediment over time and decanting helps separate the wine from the sediment. To decant a wine, pour wine slowly and steadily into a wine decanter and let it sit for about 30-45 minutes before serving. Unlike younger, full-bodied wines that should be allowed to breathe and develop once decanted, fragile, aged wines should be decanted immediately before serving to prevent oxidation.
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