The Art of Serving Wine

Wine

08/07/2016

Opening a bottle of wine can be a mundane affair or turn into something truly festive and extraordinary. It all depends on the occasion and the wine. Sticking to a few simple rules in the wine serving art, however, will ensure our full enjoyment of every last delightful drop in the bottle.

We're not going to get into strict protocol or anything like that—simply a few recommendations that will make your experience of drinking a glass of wine even more enjoyable.

Temperature

This is the most important factor to keep in mind. Nothing is worse than a wine served warm, whether it's white or red. We'll only perceive the dominating presence of the alcohol or, when it comes to whites, a very unpleasant acidity. As a result, we won't even want to finish our first glass.

Depending on the type of wine, you can let the table below guide you. However, figuring out the actual temperature can be a bit tricky given how most of us don't carry a thermometer around.

Whites should be kept in the fridge. If they're a bit colder than the ideal temperature when we open the bottle, that's okay. Given our local climate, the temperature generally goes up quite quickly. A tip: use an ice bucket with ice and water to keep the wine cool.

For light fresh whites like 3055 Chardonnay, add more ice than water. By contrast, a barrel-aged Chardonnay like Vinya Gigi doesn't need as much ice. Drinking the wine at a slightly higher temperature allows us to appreciate its full complexity.

Treat rosé wines such as 3055 Rosé like a white. Don't let the temperature go up too much. An ice bucket is this wine's best friend.

What about reds? In an earlier post, we already discussed serving temperatures. Just a quick reminder: forget that “room temperature” business. Serve barrel-aged reds like our single vineyard wines at 17º to 18º Celsius and let them warm up to around 20º. Young reds like 3055 Merlot-Petit Verdot are best kept at 16º to 18º Celsius.

 

Serving temperature:
WINE TYPE TEMPERATURE
Light white and rosé wines 7–10ºC
Sparkling wines 6–8ºC
Barrel-aged whites, and rosé wines 10–12ºC
Young reds 12–15ºC
Barrel-aged reds 17–18ºC

 

What is the best way to quickly chill a bottle? Forget about the freezer! Put the bottle in a suitable container filled with ice, water and a pinch of salt. The wine will be nice and cool within minutes. And it doesn't have to be an ice bucket—any bucket will do!

Why do we cut the capsule or foil?

At restaurants, you have probably seen waiters cut the foil around the bottleneck, either above or below the rim. Our sommelier, Sergi Castro, always cuts below the rim. “This keeps the wine from coming into contact with the capsule and ensures that no badly cut bits of foil slip into a guest's glass.”

What corkscrew should we use?

Whichever one you find easiest to use. Make sure to drive the corkscrew into the middle of the cork without pushing it all the way through. Doing so prevents loose bits of cork from falling into the wine. Clean the inside of the bottleneck with a paper towel to make sure. Remember to smell the cork. Since many wine faults can be detected simply by smelling the cork, it is an easy way to avoid serving a spoiled wine.

Decanting, aerating or filtering

Most of us probably have a decanter at home. But what wines should we use it for? Red wines mostly, but remember, decanting and aerating are completely different things. We decant older (or very old) wines, which over time have developed sediments that we don't want in the wine.

Decant very carefully to avoid pouring sediments into the glass. We should not expose these wines to oxygen for too long, because older wines tend to oxidize rather quickly (most decanters come with a lid or stopper).

Younger wines can be aerated, meaning we can vigorously pour them into the decanter so that the oxygen opens up the wine, aromatically speaking. It's a bit like opening a window to air out a room. Wine is locked into a bottle, and when young, it can acquire reduced notes, also described as being “closed.” By aerating, we quickly “eliminate” these rather unpleasant aromas.

Some wines are unfiltered. This is normally indicated on the label, and upon serving we'll notice particles suspended in the wine. There's nothing wrong with drinking it this way. The particles are completely natural and harmless, but if you would rather filter the wine, you can use a very fine metal sieve.

Glass, tumbler, porró*...

To fully enjoy a wine in all its nuances, it is always best served in a clear fine glass, but depending on the circumstances, we have to be flexible. For example, nothing beats having a few high-quality glasses at home to properly enjoy your wine.

But wine should be something sociable, joyful and uncomplicated. Therefore, we shouldn't expect to find the finest glasses at a picnic or country-style barbeque.

As you can see, it comes down to a few simple serving rules that help us enjoy wine to the fullest. Now there's only one thing left to do: drink and enjoy wine! Cheers!

*a traditional wine jar with a long drinking spout

Categorías: Wine