Wine Advice

People are sometimes put off by the mystique that surrounds viticulture (the culture of winemaking), but you don”t have to be a wine master to enjoy wine tasting. Nor do you need to be a wine expert to age wine in storage. All you need is a little wine advice. Wine Etiquette and Pouring Much mystique seems to shroud wine serving and pouring. Perhaps you”ve seen the most impressive method of wine serving, where the bottle neck is heated with special tongs and sliced off with a saber. Such spectacle is all very theatrical and impressive, but completely unnecessary. The only real rule to wine etiquette is to serve the wine correctly. There are really only two considerations to keep in mind: temperature and timing. Temperature and Wine Serving Different wines taste best at different temperatures. No wine master would dream of serving Champagne at the same temperature as a Riesling. Those of us who aren”t wine experts might not be as demanding, but can still get maximum pleasure out of our wine by following this temperature table: Wine Fahrenheit Celsius Asti Spumanti 41 degrees 5 degrees Beaujolais / Rose 54 degrees 12 degrees Champagne 45 degrees 7 degrees Chardonnay 48 degrees 9 degrees Chianti / Zinfandel 59 degrees 15 degrees Ice wines 43 degrees 6 degrees Pinot Noir 61 degrees 16 degrees Red Burgundy / Cabernet 63 degrees 17 degrees Riesling 47 degrees 8 degrees Sauternes 52 degrees 11 degrees Shiraz / most reds 64 degrees 18 degrees Tawny / NV Port / Madeira 57 degrees 14 degrees Vintage Port 66 degrees 19 degrees Unless you”re a wine master, don”t worry if you”re a degree or two off for your wine. Get the temperature as close as you reasonably can and your wine will taste at its best. Opening the Bottle Timing is as important as temperature when wine serving. Generally speaking, a red wine should be opened an hour before drinking, to let it ”breathe” (let it come into contact with oxygen and develop its bouquet). In contrast, white wine is best served immediately after opening. Pouring the Wine The glass you use is important when wine serving. A red wine glass has a wide bowl that allows you to fully experience the complexity of the wine. White wine glasses are narrower; augmenting the taste of the wine while limited the amount of oxidization that occurs at the wine”s surface. Wine Tasting Etiquette A wine tasting party sounds intimidating, but again, you don”t need to be a wine expert to enjoy one. You”ll be greeted by the host, usually a wine master who”ll provide you with glasses and explain what wines are available for tasting. A wine tasting has a set order: white wine is served first, followed by reds, and finally dessert wines. Sip the wine and consult the accompanying tasting notes to see what aromas and flavors you should be taken. It”s quite acceptable not to drink all the wine in your glass: In fact, most […]

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Wine Glasses

Wine glasses, in their many shapes, not only add visual appeal, but they also serve an important function in enhancing the flavor of the wine. With so many varieties available, you can find wine glassware in nearly every style to accommodate any budget. While crystal wine glasses are at the higher end of the price spectrum for glassware, the material which the glass is made of is less important than the glass”s shape. In fact, some wine experts even state that the size of the bowl is crucial to the ultimate flavor, as the bowl size affects how the aroma rises above or sits on top of the liquid as you drink the wine. Wine Glasses: Different Types of Glasses The basic wine glass shape is similar to a tulip in bloom, meaning that wine glassware always has a wider base with a more narrowed, tapered top. However, aside from this basic structure, the size of the glass, as well as the degree to which the top is narrow, varies dramatically for wine glasses meant for different types of wine. Here is a breakdown of what types of glasses to use for each type of wine: Champagnes and sparkling white wines: Because this class of wine is bubbly by nature, champagnes and sparkling white wines are usually served in flutes (longer, thinner glasses that are not dramatically tapered). This glass shape allows the bubbles to flow up a longer length of the liquid, a pleasing sight to the eye. Similarly, because the glass is narrower, the gas of the bubbles can”t escape the liquid as fast as it would with a more open bowl. This preserves the carbonation. Dessert wines: The smallest wine glasses (those that are short and have short, small bowls) are ideal for serving sherry, port and other choice dessert wines. Because dessert wines are do potent and intense, they should be sipped and served in moderation. By pouring dessert wines into smaller glasses, you can be sure to not over serve them. Red wines: Glassware with larger bowls is the most appropriate for serving red wines. Younger wines are best in slightly smaller, more slender bowls with taller sides (these glasses are known as “chianti” glasses) to address the stronger tannins. Alternatively, more mature, full-bodied red wines should be served in glasses with larger, more open bowls to allow it to aerate and distribute the aroma. White wines: Serve light white wines in narrower, smaller glasses with a more elongated bowl so that the wine stays chilled longer. By keeping white wine at cooler temperatures, these more slender glasses enhance the flavor, whether it be fruity, woody or herby. While you can get specialty wine glasses from manufacturers around the world, those limited on budget and storage space may want to consider getting a set of all-purpose wine glasses, a type of glassware produced by many manufacturers. These all-purpose glasses are designed to be acceptable in most serving situations, regardless of whether you”re serving red or […]

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Wine Accessories

Before you go out and spend a bundle on wine glasses and accessories, whether for yourself or for a gift, find out what you really need. Though the selection of wine accessories in kitchen stores and catalogs can be both impressive and tempting, enjoying wine really only requires a few basic tools and wine accessories. See below for a list of items that will help you enjoy any type of wine on any occasion. Corkscrews Of course, you need at least one good corkscrew to open all that great budget wine you’ve bought. To start, consider purchasing one waiter-type corkscrew for travel or picnics (also good for home use). You may also want to purchase a more advanced, lever-style or winged corkscrew for home use. Wine Accessories Some wine accessories are necessary for the full enjoyment of a bottle of good wine. To get started, you need: A decanter or aerator for red wines A wine air removal stopper or pump (for re-corking, so unfinished bottles don’t go bad). If you want to expand on your accessories collection, consider purchasing: A drip ring to prevent wine from dripping down the bottle after it’s been poured A foil cutter A marble or stainless steel wine cooler sleeve or bucket for the table A wine tote or backpack for travel. Wine Glasses Proper wine glasses are also widely considered a necessity. While you can certainly drink Bordeaux out of a mug, many wine connoisseurs posit that the shapes of different wine glasses help enhance the tasting experience by allowing the wine to “open up” and tipping the contents into a certain place on your tongue when you sip. While countless options are available, start with the basics: A few red wine glasses (stemmed or stemless) A few white wine glasses (stemmed glasses are better than stemless for white wine; keeping hands off the glass ensures white wine stays cool). Once you’re ready to expand your collection of glasses, consider purchasing: Shatterproof glasses for outdoor use Sparkling wine flutes Glasses for different types of wine you drink often, like chardonnay or pinot noir. Wine Racks If you plan to store wine for more than a week or two, it should be kept in a rack, on its side. Storing wine on its side prevents the cork from drying out and allowing oxygen to enter the bottle, which can spoil the wine. If you’re starting a collection, therefore, a rack is essential. To start, consider buying a wall-mounted or countertop wine rack for your kitchen or dining room to store wines you’ll drink in the near future. If you plan to start collecting and/or storing wines, it’s time to buy an upright wine rack or shelving for the basement or other wine storage area.

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