How do you know if you’re doing it right?
Picture it: You’re at a good restaurant with friends and one of them is a self-proclaimed wine snob so you hand him the wine list. He chooses what he says will be an amazing wine. You take a sip and you are seriously underwhelmed. What happened? There could be several reasons – you don’t enjoy the same wine profile (but you could swear that this was a wine you loved the last time!), the bottle is ‘corked’ (i.e. the wine has been contaminated by a fungi from the cork and it smells like wet dog!) in which case it won’t hurt you but it does indeed stink and affect the taste of the wine, or it wasn’t stored or served properly.
This can happen at home even easier than at a good restaurant but here are some easy tips to avoid it.
First, all wines, red and white, should be stored in a cool (heat is the biggest enemy for wine), dry, dark place. That means no sunlight, on their side so the cork stays moist, away from heat and ideally at approximately 55° Fahrenheit. Temperatures higher than 70ºF will age wine more quickly and any warmer than that and you will have ‘cooked’ your wine. On the other hand, don’t keep wine in a place where it can come close to freezing either.
Now for the fun part – serving and drinking the wine.
Everyone has heard that red wines should be served at room temperature but what they don’t say is that ‘room temperature’ is basically the temp of a wine cellar in Europe! So, it’s not REALLY room temp. When red wine is served too warm it loses its nuance, it will taste flat and very often jammy. On the other hand, whites are often served way too cold which will mask any flavor or dimension the winemaker has worked so hard for.
So here are the serving temperature tips that will help your wine taste as wonderful as the winemaker hoped.
- Light bodied white wines like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling and rosé – serve them cold straight from the refrigerator. Once poured they will warm up to about 40°-50°F which is ideal.
- More full-bodied whites like Chardonnay, Chablis, Viognier and even light, fruity wines (think Beaujolais Nouveau) taste best between 50º-60ºF. Just take the bottle out of your refrigerator about 15-20 minutes early so that it warms up just enough before you want to serve it and you’ll be very close!
- If you’re like me and you love a more full-bodied red (a big Cabernet anyone?) then you want to start sipping them at about 60º-65ºF. You will notice there will be a difference in complexity. Again, just take them out of the refrigerator about 15-20 minutes before you want to serve and you’ll be good.
Now that you know how to store and serve your wines – get creative with the bottles you pick. Have a wine tasting party or just friends over to taste your new choices. The more you taste the more you know. Enjoy!
Wines in the picture: