New York Wine & GrapeNews



Storing & Serving Wine

Shared by Dana Alexander


Some wine enthusiasts go through elaborate rituals in serving wine, which can be fun and entertaining. But storing and serving wine is really a simple matter of following some basic guidelines.

You don't have to have an elaborate or expensive "wine cellar" to store wine properly. Just keep it in one place (preferably cool, away from direct sunlight), with the bottles on their sides to keep the cork moistened. And don't feel that you have to drink the entire bottle at one sitting: wine stays fine for several days if recorked and refrigerated.

Many people think they have to "age" wine after purchasing it. This is almost always untrue. If you can buy a wine, you can drink it--because the winemaker will not "release" it until it is ready to consume. But properly stored wine will last for a long time, so there's no rush to consume it either. Just wait for the appropriate moment with good friends and good food--and enjoy.

Just remember two simple formulas: 45-55-65, and 3-2-1. Sparkling wines or champagnes should be well chilled (to about 45° F/7°C) prior to serving, so refrigerate it for 3 hours. White table wines should be served at about 55° F/13°C, so count on 2 hours in the fridge; the same goes for late harvest or ice wines for dessert. Red wines, ports and sherries should be served at cool room temperature (65° F/18°C), so if your room isn't that cool put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

First a word of caution: When opening a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne, never shake the bottle or point the cork in the direction of another person. Hold the bottle in one hand and the cork in the other, then twist the bottle--not the cork--keeping downward pressure on the cork until you hear a gentle pop. Sparkling and white wines should be opened just prior to serving, while red wines can be opened well before serving to allow them to "breathe"--that is, mix with air to develop their full aroma and flavor.

No, you don't have to spend a fortune on glasses to enjoy wine. In fact, you can use your orange juice or water glass if you wish. But if you drink wine regularly, you may want to use an all-purpose "everyday wine glass" that is suitable for all types of wine. If you become very serious, there are special shapes and sizes of glasses for different wines (see illustration); just make sure any glass is large enough--at least 8 ounces in capacity--to permit full enjoyment. Most important: Please don't use the flat glasses for sparkling wines or champagnes, since all that surface area just makes the magic bubbles dissipate into the air. Use a tall and thin "flute" so you can enjoy the bubbles instead.

Except for sparkling wines, you should fill glasses only about half-way. Much of wine's pleasure comes from its aroma, which should be allowed to develop in the top half of the glass. To truly savor it, swirl the wine gently before inhaling its essence.