How to serve and preserve your wine?
Have you ever wondered why some people decant wine? Have you ever paid attention to the type of glassware you are using? If by some strange reason you haven’t finished the whole bottle – do you know how best to preserve it for the next day?
Read on to get the best out of your wine experience…
Get the right glassware.
This will enhance the aromas, texture, flavour and finish of the wine. Pick a glass that is lightweight and more importantly has a thin rim. Wine glasses that are chunky will feel chunky on your lips and this affects the overall experience. Make sure the bowl of the glass is large enough for you to swill the wine around to oxygenate it, therefore releasing the aromas.
My winner for best value and ones I often use at home: Villeroy & Boch Ovid Glasses
Riedel are a super safe choice, making every different style of wine glass you can think of having may different price points to fit different budgets.
Their decanters are also superb if you like beautiful shapes and designs.
Zalto are my favourite glasses. At around £40 a glass they do not come cheap, but they are elegant hand crafted glasses that allow the wine to be at it’s best.
The shape of the glass will in fact impact your experience, so look at getting rounder bowl glasses for Burgundy wines. These will release the aromatic, more floral flavours. Whereas Cabernet Sauvignon and richer, heavier oaked reds are better in bigger tall bowls to allow for greater aeration.
Decant your wine
If you have bought a decent quality wine, it will benefit from decanting. As wine has been stuck inside a bottle for some time, it needs oxygen to help “open it up”. This will help release more aromas and flavours. Be careful with wines over 20 years old. They become fragile and in fact swirling them around, or giving them too much exposure to air can destroy the wine completely. Richer white wines like burgundy also benefit from decanting – it is not just red wines. You will be looking to decant between 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the wine.
If in a rush, you can double decant. This is pouring the wine into a decanter, and then back into the bottle or another vessel. Then pour back into the decanter to finish.
Use an aerator. This allows you give your wine a quick hit of oxygen in only a matter of seconds, releasing more flavours quickly.
Remove the sediment.
If you wine is over 5 years old there may be a chance that it has some sediment at the bottom of the bottle. If you are not sure the best way to find out, is to decant the wine over a light. Take a candle (or mobile phone light) and shine this under the neck of the bottle whilst you are pouring. As you get towards the end of the bottle you will see through the neck of the glass, that the wine is no longer clear, and filled with little bits. At this point you stop pouring.
TIP: If you are in a hurry, use a clean muslin cloth or J cloth. You can be super quick and also if you have broken any pieces of cork into your bottle, this is an easy way to catch them.
Serve your wine at the correct temperature.
Room temperature is a myth. This temperature guide was set at a time when there was no such thing as central heating. Therefore room temperature actually means 18°C. This should be the maximum you ever serve your wine.
When it comes to fresh, simple light whites such as Pinot Grigio, serve them at 5°C. As the wine gets more flavours and more oak serve them warmer. A rich Chardonnay with lots of oak will taste great at about 13°C. This is because lighter wines will seem more refreshing when colder and the richer wines at a warmer temperature, will have more aromas and a better texture. With light unoaked reds such as Beaujolais they will seem more fruity and floral at 13°C. A heavily oaked Bordeaux will be at it’s best at 18°C. Too warm, and the wines will seem overly alcoholic, but taking a tannic red and chilling it too low will make the tannins seem more apparent and the wine overall, more bitter.
Tips: If you need to chill the wine down quickly you can take a wet cloth, wrap it around the bottle and put in the freezer, or my prefered method: stick the wine in an ice bucket which is 1/2 ice and 1/2 water with lots of salt. The salt encourages the water to be lower in temperature quicker.
And if you haven’t finished the whole wine? Here are some top tips to preserve the wine for as long as possible:
- Put it in the fridge – The cooler the temperature, the slower the process of oxidation.
- Change the wine into a half bottle – Less space for oxygen to transmit.
- Buy a Vacu Vin – They are not expensive and you use them as a pump which sucks out the oxygen.
- If you have the money, buy yourself a Coravin. This is a special device which allows you to extract wine without opening the bottle. You insert a needle into the cork, and as it sucks up the wine, it replaces this space with an inert gas, protecting the wine from oxidizing. I will say though, from personal experience, their claim that a wine will not change flavor from one year to the next is a lie. You definitely have about 3-4 weeks without any dramatic chances to the flavours of the wine. Some corks seem to handle the needle better and after a few months they are still fine, but why take that chance – don’t leave the wine to lie around too long.