Let’s be upfront. How much fuss should we really make over this topic? After all, you might surmise, it doesn’t take much dexterity to wind a corkscrew into a cork, yank swiftly, and start pouring wine for the nearest salivating palate. Well, unlike most of the world’s popular beverages, fine wine is, unfortunately, not a popped cork or for that matter a pop-top away from enjoyment. Storage, serving temperature, decanters and glasses can affect the taste of wine.
Most likely once you’ve purchased a bottle of fine wine you won’t be uncorking it the minute you hit the front door. Storing fine wine is the first step toward making sure your investment will not sour. According to wine experts an ideal place to keep wine has a temperature that does not vary below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 60 degrees. If you store a fine wine in too cold or too hot an atmosphere, it will suffer. In addition, it will suffer if it is subjected to alternate chilling and heating.
Fine wine must be stored in the dark and it must be safe against vibration. Wine bottle should be binned on their sides so that their corks are kept moist. Dry corks shrink, admitting air to the detriment of the wine, and when they become hard, they are difficult to extract. Bottle laid down should lie with labels uppermost. This practice ensures that any sediment or crust forming on the lower side of the bottle remains there.
White wines need to be cooled, whatever the weather outside. A bottle of dry or medium-dry white wine should spend at least 40 minutes in a moderately cold refrigerator; champagne and other sparkling wines need a least an hour.
Red wine has a higher molecular weight and is thus less volatile than white. The object of serving red wine a room temperature, chamber, is to warm it to the point where its aromatic elements begin to vaporized. Red wines are normally served between 65F to 70F, however, in a heat wave they may need chilling in an ice bucket.
For champagne and most fine white wines, the ideal way of serving is placing the bottle in a deep ice bucket of cold water, with ice cubes in the water. A few words of caution: Most ice buckets are too shallow, so it is necessary to stand the bottle on its head for a few minutes to cool the top of the bottle.
In general, most wines don’t need decanting, say the experts. But, chances are you’ve received a decanter as a gift from a Christmas or birthday past or maybe you just like the way they look sitting on your coffee or dinner table. Whatever your reason, here’s how to use a decanter: First, check that the decanter is clean and free of detergent residue inside. Rinse it out thoroughly and allow to drip dry. Then, perhaps an hour or so before serving, pour in the wine slowly.
What most wine glasses have in common are the essentials of reasonably generous size (so that a good measure fills them only half to two-thirds full), clear, uncolored glass so that the color of the wine is undimmed, and a rim that cups slightly toward the top, which makes it possible to swirl the wine in the glass to release its scent without spilling it. Glass stems may be colored, but it is best to have clear bowls to enjoy the wine color.
On the average most wine glasses are between 6 to 9 ounces in size. Smaller wine glasses, 4 to 6 ounces in size, are generally used for dessert wines whose pungent odors do not require much sniffing.
For serving sparkling wines, use a tulip shaped rather than a broad dish shape. The tulip shape allows guests to view the rising bubbles and the fragrance is concentrated in the narrow opening above the wine.
Popping the cork
Nothing seems to signal a celebration quicker than the sound of a cork as it is dislodged from a bottle of wine. Correct procedure calls for the server to use a small knife to cut and remove the capsule around the lip of the bottle. The server should then wipe the tope of the bottle and cork with a clean napkin, screw a corkscrew through the center of the cork and remove it slowly. If pieces of the cork are floating in the wine, simply flick a little of the wine into an outstretched napkin.
For sparkling wines, remove the foil over the cork and then the wire muzzle. Be sure and tilt the bottle away from you at an angle of 45 degrees, with one hand around the neck, holding the cork in. With the other hand on the based, turn the bottle around the cork, which should ease out gradually.
Now, it’s on to the best aspect of wine: Drinking it.