How to Serve Wine

Serving wine is an art in itself. Whether it is to be served to the guests or simply enjoyed by us, some rules have to be followed which make the wine drinking experience a joyful one. Wine is considered as a delicate drink and has to be served with compassion and in a specific style. Besides the style, certain factors need to be considered when we are planning to serve wine.

Serving Temperature

The most important and not to be missed factor is the temperature of the wine to be served. The serving temperature for each kind of wine is different and this criterion has to be met so that the optimum taste and smell of the wine can be experienced.

Red wines are usually served at 15-16°C (about 60°F) which is considered room temperature for the wine. As the red wines are to be stored at the same temperature, they need not be chilled or kept in the refrigerator before serving. When served at this temperature, red wines give the maximum taste and aroma. If the temperature is lower than the room temperature, we could warm it a bit by serving it in warmed glasses or by keeping the wine bottle in a warm water tub. This will raise the temperature of the wine and would make it perfect for serving.

Contrary to red wines, white wines should be served chilled at 4°C (39.2°F) temperature. White wines can be kept in the refrigerator before serving so that it can attain the desired temperature. Temperature of 8-10°C (46-50°F) is also good enough for serving white wines.

Opening a Wine Bottle

Wine bottles are generally corked and a corkscrew is generally used to open such bottles. A corkscrew has a pointed metallic helix (often called the ‘worm’) that is inserted in the cork and a handle for grip. The helix is twisted inside the cork until it is firmly set in and then the cork is taken out with a vertical pull. There are different types of corkscrews available today - basic corkscrew, lever style corkscrew, twisting pull corkscrew, wing corkscrew or a sommelier/waiter corkscrew. A twin prong cork puller is also used to extract the cork without damaging it.

Before we take the cork out, the paper foil wrapped around the top of the cork should be removed using a sharp knife. We have to ensure that all the foil is removed appropriately. The corkscrew is then drilled into the cork of the bottle and we have to keep twisting it until the whole screw is in the cork. Once the foil is removed, the wine bottle should be uncorked using any kind of corkscrew or a cork puller. While pulling the cork out we need to ensure that the bottle is held in an angle away from anybody’s face as the released pressure may cause injury when the cork pops out. The pressure is higher with sparkling wines like Champagne.

If the cork does not come out this way then it should be pushed backed inside the wine bottle. The cork is then held inside the bottle using a Kebab stick and the wine is poured into a canister or jug. If any cork pieces slip into the wine while pushing the cork, a strainer can be used while pouring the wine into the canister or jug.

Some wines leave sediments in the bottle and hence decanting needs to be done. Decanting is a process in which the wine is poured with a steady hand and very slowly into a glass jug. When poured in a decanter, one can see the sediments with the help of some bright light or a candle held near the jug.

Let the Wine Breathe

Once the bottle is opened, we should let the gas accumulated inside the bottle to release. It is believed that wine should be allowed to breathe before it is served. The wine bottle can be opened many hours in advance before the serving to facilitate wine breathing. This way, the smell of the bottle and the cork would evaporate, leaving back the tantalising aroma of the wine. Even decanting process helps wine breathe better.

Pouring Wine into a Glass

Pouring of wine into the glass is also very important. The pouring measurement also depends on the type of wine. Typically, we should pour 3 to 4 ounces (about 100 ml) or fill the wine glass half full. This facilitates swirling the wine in the glass and smell the aroma correctly. It becomes difficult to swirl if more than half the glass is full.

Conventionally, there are certain rules of serving wine. White wine is to be served before red wine and the young wine is to be served before the old wine.

Choosing the Right Wine Glass

The most vital part of serving wine are the glasses in which it is served. We cannot simply use a beer mug or just a simple glass to pour and serve the wine. Wine has its own style and shape of glasses; and it should be served in designated glasses only. An ideal glass to serve wine should look like a tulip flower. The bowl of the glass is tall and tapers near the top. It is also wider which can hold a good amount of wine at a time and trap the aroma inside. The stem should be long enough for us to hold the glass correctly and easy to swirl the wine in the glass. The glass has to be held at the stem so that our body temperature doesn't affect the temperature of the wine inside. The foot or base of the glass should be slightly flat and make the glass stand tall when placed on the table. Conventionally, the glass size differs depending on the type of wine - white, red, rosé or Champagne.