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Friday, January 13, 2017

How to Drink Your Wine

You would think drinking a glass of wine would be easy, but noooo. Here are a few tidbits to help you get the most out of your wine.

Serving Temperature

Well, this might be refreshing,
but it's too cold to taste anything
Usually white wines are stored in the fridge before opening them up (about 40 degrees) and reds stored at room temp (65 degrees and up). This means whites are often served too cold and reds too warm. Red wines can be too cold if they come straight out of a cellar or wine fridge. Serve a wine at too cold of a temperature and you start losing the flavors.

Most white are best at cellar temp -- about 55 degrees. A few whites, sparkling wine and Sauvignon Blanc, for instance, can be colder.

Reds are usually best in the low 60s so somewhere between a traditional cellar temp and room temp. Reds served too cold have the same issues as whites with the flavors being masked. Reds served too warm also mask flavors plus you may taste the heat of the alcohol or get a nasty, astringent flavor (the drying tannins really come out).  

So what's the solution? Leave that Chardonnay outside of the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Put reds in the door of the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving if they're at room temp. These aren't hard-and-fast rules for all wines because as with most things there are exceptions. For instance, on a warm day it might be nice to have a light red like a Beaujolais or Grenache with a bit of a chill.

Serving beer at the wrong temp is also a common problem. Many premium beers should be warmer than refrigerator temperature. Crap like Coors and Miller Lite should be as cold as possible so you don't taste them.

Holding the glass

Dumb idea for controlling serving temp.
But good if you're clumsy like me 
as it's not as likely to get knocked over
They invented wine glass stems so you wouldn't hold the glass by the bowl, but we all do this sometimes. Holding the bowl transfers heat from your hand to the wine.  Assuming you are serving at the proper temperature you are now getting the wine too warm. Of course, if your Chardonnay came straight out of the fridge you can hold the glass by the bowl for a bit to get the wine's temperature up.

Those fancy Riedel stemless glasses? Well, don't hold the wine too long -- set the glass down.

Letting the wine breathe

All wines will benefit from this, but especially those big, young red wines. Let your glass set for a couple minutes after pouring. This is aeration of the wine (adding oxygen) to soften its youthfulness and letting it integrate a bit.

Swirling the wine in the glass

What the hell?
Most of the great sensation of flavors you get from wine are actually through your nose, not your mouth. This is about aeration. Do this: Pour yourself a glass and stick your nose way into the glass and smell. Now swirl a glass for five seconds and do it again. See the difference?

You can also over-swirl and get too much oxygen into the wine.

And don't swirl your sparkling wine as you are just breaking down the bubbles.


You paid good money for that bottle of wine. You might as well get full enjoyment from it!