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Wine service

Wine service


The best temperature to serve wine

Collectors often drink their white wines too cold and their red wines too warm. A wine that's served too cold will lose some of its flavor, while a wine that's served too warm will taste flat and overly sweet. Generally, you should serve your white wines between 40 and 55 degrees; crisp, young whites are best served colder than complex, age-worthy wines like white Burgundy. As for red wines, you'll want to serve these between 50 and 65 degrees. Lighter reds taste best served on the cooler side, while bolder reds are most flavorful at 65 degrees. Never serve a red wine at room temperature. Dry fortified wines perform at their peak at around 50 degrees, while dessert wines taste best at 65 degrees. Serve sparkling wines at 40 to 45 degrees to preserve their bubbles. Learn more.

The ultimate guide to chilling red wine

Before every home had electricity and digital thermostats, room temperatures usually hovered around 60°F. Today, room temperatures are much closer to 70°F, which is far too warm for most wine. When you chill a red wine you bring it back down to 60°, right around cellar temperature where its beautiful flavors open up. Red wines are capable of being chilled, and can even prove more satisfying and refreshing than many a white wine served in this manner. Learn more.

How to properly decant wine

You should only decant a wine long enough for its sediment to settle at the bottom of the decanter and for its aromatics to become more open. Wines with heavy sediment can take an hour or two to settle. Young, tight, high-tannin red wines usually take anywhere from two to four hours to soften. Mature wines that are more than 20 years old shouldn't spend more than 30 minutes in a decanter, because they will quickly lose their aromatics in the exposed air. Generally, you should decant white wines and sparkling wines for less time than red wine – typically for less than an hour. Learn more.

How to properly open a wine bottle

Corks break either because they have become fragile with age or because they have natural flaws. They can also break when you use the wrong type of wine opener or the wrong opening technique. For rare, valuable bottles or vintages that are more than ten years old you should use a two-pronged wine opener to pry the cork out without piercing it. Inserting the prongs carefully will keep fragile corks from crumbling. For all other wines, you can use a waiter's friend corkscrew. Learn more.

How to select the best wine bottle opener

Restaurant wine director Jordan Salcito tells The Sweet Home that he prefers a waiter's corkscrew to any other wine opener on the market. He explains, "I really believe that a wine key is something quite personal. For me, the best style is the classic waiter's corkscrew…I think that this kind of model gives a person the greatest amount of control when opening a bottle. It's sort of like the 'stick shift' of wine keys. No professional driver wants an automatic." Learn more.

How to select the perfect wine glass

The shape of a wine glass affects the taste of the wine inside by channeling its aromatics and keeping it cool. If you choose the wrong glass, you could stifle your wine's bouquet. Standard red wine glasses are larger than most other types of glasses and they have longer stems. The large bowl size helps the wine release its aromatics into the air and the tapered top channels smells directly to your nose. A standard white wine glass has a slightly smaller bowl than a red wine glass because whites don't need as much space to become aromatic. Learn more.

How to select the best aerators and decanters

A few weeks ago I opened a bottle of California Zinfandel and found the wine as dull as nails. Since this is a vintage that a good friend raved about I decided to give it another shot, this time pouring it through my handheld wine aerator. Within moments, the bland Zinfandel transformed into a heady bouquet of flowers and rich red fruit; I could see why my friend recommended it. The best wine aerators and decanters won't necessarily make a bad vintage taste like 2005 Latour, but they can greatly improve the aroma and flavor of your wine. Learn more.

How high to fill a wine glass

How high you fill a wine glass when serving wine will depend on the occasion and the type of wine you have. In a wine tasting you should never pour a glass of wine more than halfway full, leaving plenty of space for the wine to breathe and release its aromatics. White wines can be served half full, while reds need a bit more exposure to oxygen to open up. Sparkling wines in flutes can be filled close to the top, while fortified wines should only be served in small pours (no more than about six ounces or a quarter of a standard wine glass). Learn more.


**Photo credit of Wine Commanders

How to decant champagne

Sommeliers, winemakers, and collectors have noticed that some Champagnes do indeed improve with a little aeration. Although most of us were taught never to decant Champagne, some experts are bucking tradition with positive results. To decide whether to decant Champagne, you should understand the potential issues and closely consider the vintage's style. Learn more.