SERVING IT RIGHT
A simple guide to
Serving wine the right way is easy. Whether you’re pouring yourself a glass or sharing a bottle of wine with some friends at home or celebrating with a bubbly with your colleagues, these simple tips should help you get the maximum enjoyment from every bottle you open.
Three things to bear in mind when serving wine - serving temperature, stemware and pouring quantity.
Imagine drinking a warm beer. Not ideal, right? Similarly, serving wine at the right temperature is critical for a better experience as it can dramatically impact the way a wine smells and tastes. Serving temperatures vary depending on the type of wine. Most often you can find this information on the wine label itself. But if you are still unsure we've got you covered. While you don’t have to be too exact, keep in mind that serving wines above 21 degrees Celsius should be best avoided.
Red wine: Cool to slightly cool (12 – 21 degrees Celsius)
Leave the light, fruity red wines (like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Tempranillo) in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and the rich, high tannin red wines (like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec) for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
TIP: Place the red wines in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes for quicker results. Ignore the age-old ‘room temperature’ rule when it comes to serving red wines.
White wine: Chilled (7 – 14 degrees Celsius)
Let the light, zesty white wines (like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling) sit in the refrigerator for about 1½ hours and the full-bodied, oaked whites (like Chardonnay, Viognier) for about 1 hour before serving.
TIP: If you are in a rush pop the light white wines into the freezer for 30 minutes and the full-bodied, oaked whites for just 20 minutes before serving. And don’t forget to take them out!
Rosé wine: Chilled (7 – 14 degrees Celsius)
Same as white wine
Sparkling wine: Ice cold (5 – 10 degrees Celsius)
To retain the fine bubbles in your sparkling wine or Champagne serve it ice cold. Keep the bottle in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before opening. Expensive sparkling wines and champagnes can be served a bit warmer. Allow the bottle to spend up to 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving.
TIP: Keep the sparkling wine bottle in the freezer for about 1 hour before popping, or place the bottle in the ice bucket, if you've one, for 30 minutes to get the same results.
Dessert/ Fortified wine: Chilled to slightly cool (6 – 18 degrees Celsius)
If the wines are young, light and fruitier then serve them a little cool, at the lower end of the spectrum - keep them in the refrigerator for 1 hour. If, on the other hand, the wines are older, complex and heavier then serve at the warmer temperature. Allow the wines to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.
TIP: Place the lighter wines in the freezer for 20 minutes and the heavier ones for 10 minutes. Touch the bottle to see if it’s cool, not icy.
Of course, you can drink wine straight from the bottle if you wish! Even use a water glass or a juice glass, and that should be okay. But most would agree that a large part of enjoying your favorite alcoholic beverage, be it beer, whisky, wine, or cocktail, is the glassware. Not only is it visually elegant but there is also science to it.
To begin your wine adventure invest in just 2 sets of modest quality stemware: an ‘all-purpose’ large-sized Bordeaux-style wine glass for all still wines - reds, whites and roses, and a tulip glass (or Champagne flute glass) for sparkling wines. Buy a wine glass that is crystal-clear (not colored or engraved), thin and comfortable to hold.
If you drink wine occasionally, you may serve your sparkling wines in a Bordeaux-style glass as well; although you might lose some of those bubbles. Save the fancy tulip or flute glasses for special occasions.
TIP: If you want to buy separate glasses for red and white wines, keep in mind that white wine glasses are typically smaller in size than the reds. Specific glasses for every varietal wine are also available, so is fine stemware. These days stemless wine glasses are also being used, which is okay for casual drinking. The choice is yours.
Unlike spirits, there is no benchmark for the pouring quantity for wine. Restaurants in India pour anywhere between 125ml to 150ml. A standard bottle of wine contains 750ml, which translates to approximately 5-6 glasses. As a thumb rule, pour till the widest part of the glass when serving still wines. This will give ample space for swirling the wine in your glass and avoid spilling. The exception is in the case of the champagne flute glasses (not tulip glasses). Fill three-fourths of the flute glass, as the purpose of these glasses is to retain the festive bubbles rather than accentuating the aromas.
The space in the wine glass is designed to hold aromas. So, not filling the glass to the rim does not mean you are being inhospitable. You can always refill the glass after all!