Wine culture is a complex, many-layered thing that has developed over thousands of years. Everyone from poor college students to high-society socialites enjoys the pleasures of a good glass of wine. And if you ever want to elevate your wine experience, one great way to do it is to know how to pour wine like a pro.
There is a ceremony that goes along with the opening and drinking of a bottle of wine. So read on to learn how wine connoisseurs handle their wine and the benefits it can bring to your drinking experience.
1. Choose the Right Glassware
Believe it or not, the glass you choose to serve your wine in will affect the drinkers? experience. Glasses are sized to fit the serving portion and shaped to promote the full nose of the wine. There are eight basic styles of wine glass for different varietals.
For cabernet sauvignon, Bordeaux, and other full-bodied red wines, you?ll want to use the traditional wine glass. The height of the glass puts more distance between the wine and the drinker. This allows room for the ethanol to dissipate on the nose and the tannins to soften with plenty of oxygen.
Syrah and pinot noir glasses are both variations on the traditional wine glass. The syrah glass is a little more tapered at the top to allow plenty of aeration. And the pinot noir glasses are a little squatter and has a wide brim to concentrate delicate aromas.
Chardonnay is usually served in a traditional white wine glass, which is a little smaller than the traditional red glass. This helps keep the wine colder than the larger bowl of the red. The narrow rim also helps to concentrate the nose of those wines and bring out the floral notes there.
Sparkling wines are served in the traditional champagne flutes we?re all familiar with that allow the bubbles to move all the way through the wine. Fortified wines are served in much smaller glasses that reduce their alcohol evaporation and suit their smaller serving sizes.
2. Serve at the Proper Temperature
Most people know the basics ? that white wine is served chilled and red wine is served at room temperature. But there?s much more nuance to the temperature selection for each wine, and there are some exceptions to the rules.
For sparkling and light-bodied white wines, you want to serve them at almost ice-cold temperatures. You want to aim for 38 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit on these wines. The fancier they are, the warmer they can be served; try putting the bottle in the freezer for about an hour before you serve it.
Full-bodied and aromatic white wines and rose should be served cold, but not freezing. For these wines, 45 to 55 degrees will work well. Keeping these in the fridge should leave them at the perfect temperature.
Light- and medium-bodied red wines should be served at cellar temperatures. This means they want to stay a little cooler than room temperature without being chilled. Aim for 55 to 60 degrees with these wines.
Full-bodied and dessert wines can be served at room temperature to allow those flavors the most room to open up. 60 to 68 degrees will be fine for these heavy wines. Above 70 degrees and you start getting heavier ethanol notes on the nose as the alcohol evaporates.
3. Opening a Corked Bottle
When you?re handling a bottle of wine that has a cork, there?s a wonderful ritual to open the bottle. This begins with cutting the foil; many sommeliers will cut the foil below the lip of the bottle to reduce drips when pouring at a table. But for events where the bottle will be on display, cutting the foil above the lip can make for a more attractive presentation.
Once you have the foil disposed of, you should aim to poke your corkscrew in slightly off-center. You want to put the center of the corkscrew in the middle of the cork so it will be less likely to tear. Putting the tip off-center will help you get the corkscrew in the middle.
In general, it will take about seven turns to get the corkscrew to the depth you want it. You want to aim for one turn less than it would take to put the corkscrew all the way in. For fine wines that have a longer cork, you can put the corkscrew all the way in.
With the corkscrew in place, you know the rest. If you?re using a key, place the bootlever against the lip of the bottle and use the handle to pull out the cork. If you?re using a winged wine key, gently press down the arms until the cork pops free.
4. Use the Right Decanter Styles
Once the wine is open, it?s not quite time to drink it yet. First, you should give it some time to breathe and allow the tannins to open up. Pouring your wine into a decanter is a beautiful way to aerate it.
There are four types of decanters, with the largest being a swan decanter. As the name suggests, this decanter has a large, broad base and two stems that rise up. You pour the wine in the wider stem and then allow it to aerate and settle before you pour it out of the thinner flute, allowing it to aerate more. This style is good for bold wines that have a higher sediment content.
Duck decanters look somewhat like pitchers that have been tipped over slightly. They have one tapered opening and a handle that makes them easier to pour from. It doesn?t aerate as well as a swan, but it does work well for wines with more sediment.
Cornetto decanters have a long, tapered neck that looks not unlike a chimney. The length of the neck allows for slow aeration without breaking the flavors of more delicate wines. Use this style for wines that only need a little aeration before serving.
Standard decanters look like a vase with a narrowed opening and a wide base. These offer a nice balance between sediment settling and aeration, so they work for almost any wine. It?s a good idea to have a larger one for larger-bodied wines and a smaller one for more delicate wines.
5. Know the Serving Size
A standard size bottle of wine holds twenty-five ounces, so most bottles get divided up into five-ounce servings. You can adjust this serving size by an ounce or two depending on the ABV of the wine you?re serving. For example, fortified and dessert wines tend to have a higher ABV and so smaller serving sizes.
If you?re serving wine for a dinner party, you probably want to go with a smaller serving size since you?ll be serving multiple courses of wine. In these cases, aim for about three or four ounces per serving.
6. Get the Serving Order Correct
When you?re serving multiple courses of wine, there is an order you should go in to ensure the flavors complement each other as well as possible. You should start the dinner party with champagne in lieu of a cocktail before everyone sits down.
Once people are seated, you?ll want to step up your wine styles in body and boldness. Start with light whites with the amuse bouche and then move onto rich whites with the soup.
Roses come next, followed by light reds and then high tannin reds as the entrees and salads come out. Finally, bring out the dessert wines when the final course is served.
7. Use a Proper Pouring Order
When you?re pouring wine at a dinner party, there is a proper order in which to serve your guests. The rule of thumb is to serve the ladies before the men and the old before the young.
So you?ll want to serve wine first to the oldest woman at the dinner and then to the next-oldest and so on down to the youngest woman of drinking age. Then move on to the men, starting with the oldest man there and proceeding down to the youngest.
You should also always move clockwise around the table to serve every guest, no matter how many times you circle the table. Before you pour more wine for yourself, offer some to your seat neighbors. And always offer to share the last pour of a bottle with your guests.
Learn How to Pour Wine
Pouring wine is an elaborate process that you can make as fancy as you want. You can certainly pop open a bottle with your friends like you would any old day of the week. But when you feel like being proper, now you?ll know how to pour wine like the pros.
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