New This Month

Are You Serving Wine the "Right" Way? 3 Rules to Help You Pour Like a Pro

Simply open the bottle and pour? Not so fast! To make your wine truly shine, pay attention to these details.

Get the temperature right.

Sommelier secret: Most people are serving their white wines too cold, and their red wines too warm. The conventional wisdom that red wines should be served at "room temperature" is a bit of a myth in today's world where perfect 72-degree air-conditioning is standard. Red wines at this temperature can taste flat and the alcohol flavors can be emphasized. Instead, they should be served slightly cooler: at 60 to 65 degrees. You can achieve this by popping your red bottles in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to serving them.


Conversely, if white wines are served too cold, their flavors are too muted to enjoy the full dimension of the wine. Refrigerator temperature -- 35 to 37 degrees -- is way too cold. Your lighter-bodied whites, like sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio, are best enjoyed at 40 to 50 degrees. Fuller-bodied whites like chardonnay can even show best at 50 to 60 degrees to reveal their full complexity. If you're storing your bottles in the fridge, you can take them out 15 to 30 minutes before serving and let them come up to proper temperature. No need to keep your white bottles on ice unless they start becoming too warm throughout the course of your meal -- then you can chill as needed.

wine-decanter-0815.jpg (skyword:181041)
Courtesy of Personal Creations

To Decant or Not to Decant

Decanting a wine simply means pouring it out of the bottle into another vessel before serving, and the purpose of this is to let the juice mix and mingle with oxygen. When the chemical compounds in wine hit oxygen, they start to transform a bit (imagine the way an apple slice starts to turn brown once the air gets working on it). This transformation can unlock all of the flavors and aromas and infuse them with more vibrancy and can also mellow out some of the harsher flavors in a wine.


Swishing and swirling the wine in your glass is a perfectly effective way to "open it." For a very tight wine, or that of an older vintage, you may want to decant it. Treat yourself to a beautiful decanter, or if you don't have one on hand, a plain old water pitcher will do. You're just increasing the surface area of the liquid that's exposed to oxygen. To experience the effects of decanting, buy two of the same bottle and decant only one of them. Pour them side by side and see if you and your guests can taste the difference!

wine-glasses-0815.jpg (skyword:181042)
Photo by Hobbes Yeo

Use the right glassware.

There are dozens of wine glass styles out there, and shopping for glassware can be daunting -- especially if your cupboard space is limited.


However, it makes a huge difference -- and can really affect the way we perceive the flavor. Varietal-specific glasses are technically engineered to focus or diffuse the aromas in the glass to optimally showcase that particular wine. Additionally, various glass shapes physically alter the way the liquid hits your mouth: a glass with a narrower opening might focus liquid in a more linear way straight through the back of your palate, versus a wide mouth glass where the juice rolls across your tongue in a wave. Wine structurizers like alcohol, acid, and tannin are sensations you can feel (and not just flavors). So, when they hit different parts of your mouth, it's a dramatic shift in the experience. The right glassware can help balance out these factors and elevate a wine to shine its brightest. If you have the storage space and budget to invest in special Burgundy, Bordeaux, and riesling glasses, they can definitely enhance your drinking experience.


However, if your resources are more limited, all you truly need is a solid set of stemmed universal glasses. Despite the trend of stemless tumblers for wine, stemmed glasses are way more elegant and more importantly, keep the wine from heating up in your hands.