WINE 101 > SERVING WINE
Just a few pointers to make serving wine easy until it becomes second nature.
How Long Before Serving Should a Wine Be Opened?
There are widely diverse opinions on how long before you serve a wine should you uncork it. I have to say some suggestions are ludicrous. In the end my solution is to open a wine, pour it in a good glass and taste it immediately enjoying the prelude to one of the most fascinating evolutions of flavor and fragrance to be imagined. Let it unfold in front of you. Truth be told I do open Madarin several hours before serving.
When Should a Wine be Decanted?
Decanting is done for a couple of reasons beyond the aesthetics of serving your wine from a beautiful vessel. One reason is to separate the clear wine from sediment. If you’re doing this I’d guess the wine was older. Remember that older wines can be frail and you should decant just prior to serving. The other reason is to let the wine breathe; to evolve its bouquet and open the flavors just as opening the bottle early. As I’ve said, I’m not a big advocate of this except if the wine has a funk going when you open it then this can be beneficial.
What Temperature Should Wine be Served?
Don’t serve whites too cold nor reds too warm. For practical purposes there is a range for both but most important is to recognize that a wine’s weight or body defines its place along the scale. Big wines at the less cool end, lighter wines at their respective lower end. Enjoy a Beaujolais or Loire red with a slight chill but drink a big Chardonnay at the less cool end of the white scale. That being said, wine approaches ambient temperature at 2 degrees Fahrenheit every five minutes therefore starting the wine at the low end of its recommended range keeps it "in the zone" for a longer duration. A chart of temperatures is forthcoming.
What's a Bad Bottle of Wine?
One that's empty. Seriously, you should not get a faulted wine from a reputable merchant except for corked wines which are incidental to the orginal quality of the wine. Serving a corked wine is easy to avoid. Always smell the wine before pouring to your guests or putting it on the table for them to help themselves. Putting the bottle up to your nose can be a bit unseemly so splash a bit into your glass, smell it then offer it to your guests. If it the wine smells musty and wet cardboard-like its probably corked.
How Much is a Serving of Wine?
I like to pour 3 ounce servings so you can go around a table of eight once with a bottle. Some wines have sediment for which you can allow but always pour your own glass last as other wines unexpectedly have sediment and if your serving size is off, you should be the one shorted. Getting around the table with one bottle is fine for a first course or any other smaller course but set a second bottle on the table when you get to your main course.
What is the Order in which Wines Should be Served?
The order of service is lightest wines first and sparkling wine before any other. I like to have the first wine poured before inviting people to the table.Start your wine service from the outside glass, the one to the right. If you are using several glasses per person, this first one should be the smallest unless you’re serving a dessert wine in which case its glass should be smallest.