Understanding the significance and value of serving and storing wine is important, whether you are a wine professional, enthusiast, restaurateur, or someone who occasionally hosts an elegant meal or a relaxed BBQ with friends and family. One always aims to make that moment pleasurable by offering delicious food and beverages. I wanted to give a few recommendations for serving and storing wine in order to enhance its flavour and appreciation, which will also enhance the experience and aesthetic appeal.
Do appropriate wine storage practises really matter?
Wine can vary year after year with possible aging improvement, a process of maturation in a bottle. Just like other foods such as cheese, wine is a living organism that must be maintained correctly and in proper conditions. Inadequate wine storage can significantly alter the flavor and cause it to spoil. One must take into account a few factors, such as temperature, light, strong odors, vibrations, and other storing circumstances, when preserving wine for an extended period of time.
A temperature between 10 and 15 °C, roughly, is considered optimum. Kitchens and attics should not be used because of the constant fluctuations in temperature they incur. Long-term use of home refrigerators can also lead to wine spoilage because the extreme cold can harm the cork and seal, letting air into the wine. The wine will generally taste worse when exposed to strong food aromas and refrigerator light. To prevent the development of undesirable flavors, wine should never be exposed to direct sunlight or any other harsh light. It is recommended to store wine on its side to keep the cork moist, which can help seal out any air coming in contact with wine, while wines with screw caps can be stored upright. Wines should not be exposed to continued movement or vibrations. Yet, if you are only storing wine for a short period of time or drinking it every day, you don't have to be concerned as much. I personally always opt to buy wine that I want to consume within a few days or weeks, especially during the warmer months of the year. In the winter, a couple of bottles can be kept in a cool, dark location for a longer period of time.
Which temperature is ideal for serving wine?
If you keep your wine in a wine fridge or wine cooler, you may need to chill the white and sparkling wines further for a few hours before serving. If you forgot or have an unexpected visitor, an ice bucket will work fine. Fill the bucket with the same amount of ice and water and fully immerse the bottle. You can pour your red wine open, though some reds can be chilled for a crisper, cooler taste, particularly on hot days. If the wine is too cold for your taste, simply holding the glass bowl with your hands will warm the wine. Never attempt to heat the wine because the results will be unpleasant.
As an alternative, you may cool your wine on its side in the freezer, giving the whites about 20 to 28 minutes, sparkling wines about 25 to 30 minutes, and for the reds, if you prefer them slightly cool, about 6 to 8 minutes. The most crucial thing is to avoid keeping it there for too long or, worse yet, forgetting about it because it might result in an awful mistake. Avoid adding ice cubes directly to your wine, as it will induce poor taste from frozen ice, over-chill, and eventually dilute the flavors and aromas of the wine. More details on wine styles and recommended serving temperatures can be found on the most reliable wine expert portals. However, sticking to the below-average temperatures listed will be adequate to keep things simple.
- Red: lightly chilled to room temperature, 13- 18°C (43- 50°F).
- White: chilled, 7- 10°C (45- 50°F).
- Sparkling: well-chilled, 6- 10°C (43- 50°F).
- Sweet: well-chilled, 6- 8°C (43- 45°F).
Unsure of which glassware to select?
A wide selection of glasses is found on the market for various wine styles and varietals. To keep things easy and make wine even more delightful, a stemmed glass with a medium bowl will work well for whites and rose wines, retaining perfectly those delicate aromas that these styles of wines hold, while a larger bowl works best for red wines with ample room for the wine to open and release some of its complex and bold aromas. I advise you to acquire the habit of holding the glass by the stem; this will prevent body heat from affecting the wine and can also provide an excellent grip for swirling your glass. You should also attempt to examine the aromas on the nose just above the bowl while you are doing this. Always fill the glass no more than one-third full in order to minimize spillage, give the concentration of smell and perfumes room to open in the bowl, and result in a more pleasing flavour.
The best glass for a sparkling wine is tall and narrow; this will keep the bubbles alive longer while allowing you to savor every sip. For this style of wine and glass, it can be filled up to two-thirds full. I would like to emphasize that one of the most crucial things to check on glassware is that it is thoroughly cleaned and free of any residues, as this might taint the flavor of the wine.
Opening a bottle or two!
When opening a bottle, the cork must be removed. Start by cutting around the lower lip of the bottleneck. This can also be done using a capsule remover or a knife, which is typically found within a corkscrew. Keep a clean cloth on hand and wipe the bottle's neck once you have taken the capsule out. After inserting the chosen corkscrew and gently removing the cork as cleanly as possible, wipe the bottle's neck once more to ensure there is no residue. Pour a sample into a glass to assess the wine's condition.
For sparkling wines, after removing the foil, release the wire cage, keeping the cork firmly in place. The pressure in sparkling wine might force the cork to shoot, damaging anything or anybody in the way. Holding the cork steady with one hand while supporting the bottle's base with the other, tilt the bottle at a 30-degree angle. Hold your hand firmly and steadily on the cork as you begin turning the bottle's base since it has a tendency to pop out with a lot of force. By gently releasing the gas pressure, the wine's chance of foaming over is minimized.
Why and when should I decant my wine?
Decanting was initially used for wines that required the removal of sediment, in general, mature wines, older vintages, or port wines require decanting. Decanting wine also helps the process along by enabling more air to reach the wine's surface, extending the flavours and, in some wines, assisting in the tannin softening, even though it is not required for young reds, rose and white wines, for which simply serving wine in a glass is adequate.
When decanting one of these priceless wines, since deposits collect towards the bottom of the bottle, it is crucial to leave the wine upright and still for a few hours, gently remove the capsule, clean the bottle's neck and shoulder, and remove the cork very cautiously. For an older vintage, one might choose the Wine Cork Extractor, also known as Butler's Thief, as it will not harm the corks or cause them to break and drop pieces into the wine. Pour the wine slowly into the decanter while holding the bottle in front of the light. When the deposits are visible at the neck at this point, you should stop pouring.
How can I keep any unfinished wine fresh?
Wine that is not consumed will lose its aroma after a few days. The best way to extend a bottle of wine's shelf life is to replace the closure and put it in the refrigerator. One can select affordable tools that function effectively. A vacuum device, which is simple to use, removes air from the wine using a rubber seal. Note that these are not appropriate for sparkling wines; stoppers should be used instead to prevent oxidation. Numerous other tools are available that aid in storing and serving wine in addition to the ones that have been mentioned.
Whether you are hosting guests or just enjoying a glass of wine by yourself, it doesn’t matter. You might be pleasantly surprised by the wine's improvement in flavours and intensity by using a few straightforward but efficient approaches. These recommendations are not meant to be snobbish; rather, they are meant to improve our ability to enhance and embrace the tastes and aromas of the wine we drink. Experiencing the pleasures of wine may be an activity that one engages in throughout life and a means of creating connections with others.