Have you ever bought a supposedly spectacular, highly recommended wine that didn’t quite live up to your expectations? If so, the problem might not lie with the wine itself, but with how it was being served.
How you deliver a wine matters almost as much as the variety of wine you pick. From the temperature to the glassware, the specifics of how the wine gets to your mouth can make a noticeable difference.
While you should always take steps to store your wine at the correct temperature — especially if it will be stored for a long period of time — sometimes wine has to be chilled or warmed up before serving.
To chill wine, a quick and easy way is to place it in a bucket of ice and cold water. How long you leave it in the ice will depend on the type of wine. Champagne, which should be served quite cold, may take 30 minutes in the ice, compared with just five or 10 minutes for a warmer red wine.
While the right temperature to serve a wine is at some level a purely personal preference, here are some general guidelines for the service temperature:
Light white, rosé, sparkling: 40° to 50° F
Full-bodied white, light red: 50° to 60° F
Full-bodied red, port: 60° to 65° F
Different types of wine are also best served in specific types of glassware.
RED WINE: Glasses for serving red wine typically have wide, deep bowls so that plenty of oxygen contacts the wine. This emphasizes the scents and helps to bring out the subtle flavors in reds.
WHITE WINE: White wine glasses typically look similar to the red-wine glassware, except with smaller bowls and a smaller opening at the top. Because white wine doesn’t usually age for as many years as red, it doesn’t develop the same complexity of flavor and hence doesn’t need as much oxygen contact.
CHAMPAGNE: Long, thin glasses called Champagne flutes are ideal for sparkling wines. The tall, narrow shape directs the tiny bubbles all the way up the side of the glass, extending their life and intensifying the aroma that is funneled to the top of the glass.
SHERRY: Because sherry has such an intensely sweet flavor, special glasses with a smaller capacity are often used to serve it. Other dessert wines are popularly served in sherry glasses, too.