While it may seem a trivial thing, serving wine correctly can add class to any occasion from a casual get-together with friends to a more formal wine and dinner party. Here are some things you should know about preparing, serving and pouring wine, and types of wine glasses suitable for the wines served.
Wine Serving Temperatures
The temperature at which a wine is served has an immense impact on its taste. Serving wine cool will mask some imperfections—good for young or cheap wine—while a warmer wine temperature allows expression of the wine’s characteristics—best with an older or more expensive wine.
A bottle of wine will cool 2 °C (4 °F) for every ten minutes in the refrigerator, and will warm at about this same rate when removed from the refrigerator and left at room temperature—the temperature of the room will affect the speed with which the wine warms up. If you need to chill a bottle of wine in a hurry, 35 minutes in the freezer will do the trick.
Decanting is pouring wine into a decorative container before serving. Decanting is typically only necessary for older wines or Ports, which contain sediment that can add bitterness to the wine. Wine decanters allow the wine to breathe and may improve the flavour of older red wines. Younger wines also benefit from the aeration and rest that decanting provides. But a wine decanter can also be used simply for aesthetic reasons.
Before decanting a wine that contains sediment let the bottle rest upright allowing any sediment to sink to the bottom. Then slowing pour the wine into the decanter keeping the bottle angled to prevent any sediment from making its way into the wine decanter. The wine can be poured through cheesecloth to help filter out any wayward particles. Decanting wine should be done out of the guests’ sight.
Still wines should be poured towards the centre of the glass, while sparkling wines should be poured against the side to preserve bubbles. To control drips, twist the bottle slightly as you tilt it upright.
When pouring wine, fill the glass no more than two-thirds (about 5-6 oz). This will allow your guests to swirl the wine, smell the bouquet and check out the wine’s “legs.” A glass can always be refilled if desired. At a dinner party, serve wine to the women and older guests first, then the men and end with your own glass.
As important as wine serving temperatures is the type of wine glasses in which wines are served. The shape of a wine glass can impact the taste of the wine, and for this reason different types of wine are served in different glasses.
The three main types of wine glasses are:
• White wine glasses: tulip shaped
• Red wine glasses: more rounded and have a larger bowl
• Sparkling wine flutes: tall and thin.
A suitable all-purpose wine glass should hold 10 oz, be transparent to allow the taster to examine the colour of the wine and its body, and have a slight curve in at the top to hold in the bouquet. While an all-purpose wine glass is fine for serving a red wine, do not serve a white wine in a red wine glass.