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There are a lot of traditions associated with the storage and service of wine. However, regardless of their history and local importance, they should all be designed to ensure the wine is served in the best possible condition.

Storing Wine

If a wine is stored incorrectly it can affect the quality of the wine.  Initially, wines can start to loose some of their character and ultimately it can result in the wine developing faults.

Wines should be kept at a cool and constant temperature.

The three points detailed below should be followed when storing wine.

  • For long-term storage, wines should be kept at a cool and constant temperature.  Extremes of cold and heat as well as significant changes in temperature can damage a wine.
  • Keep wines away from strong sunshine and bright artificial light.  The light as well as the heat they both generate can cause a wine to taste stale and old.
  • If a wine is sealed with a cork then it should be stored on its side.  This ensures that the cork remains in contact with the wine and stays moist.  If the cork dries out it can let air into the bottle, which will make the wine taste stale and old.  Wines sealed with a scrap can be stored standing up.

Keep wines away from sunshine and bright artificial light.

Service Temperature

Typically white, rose and sparkling wines are served chilled.  Red wines are typically served either lightly chilled or at room temperature.  Recommended service conditions are given below but they should not be used to override personal preference.  If someone prefers to drink a wine at a different temperature. then as a host you should respect their preferences.

White, Rose and Sparkling Wines

Style of Wine     Example of Style of Wine     Recommended Service Temperature

Sweet wines      Sauterness                         Well chilled 6-8C (43-45F)

  • Sparkling wines    Champagne                 Well chilled 6-10C (43-50F)
  • Medium bodied      Pinot Grigio                 Chilled 7-10C        (45-50F)
  • Full-bodied white   Oaked Chardonnay     Lightly chilled 10-13C (50-55F)

In order to keep the wine chilled until the bottle is finished, some people use an insulated container.  Others use an ice bucket, if you use an ice bucket, remember to fill it with cold water as well as ice.  If the bucket is only filled with ice, it will not work as efficiently.

Rioja wine

Red wines

Style of Wine     Example of Style of Wine     Recommended Service Temperature

Medium/FB        Shiraz                                Room temerpature 15-18C (59-64F)

Light-bodied red  Beaujolais                         Lightly chilled 13C (55F)

Do not be tempted to heat a wine in order to raise the temperature.  This can damage the flavours of the wine.  Place it in the room where it will be served and allow the temperature to rise naturally.  Note that with modern air conditioning and central heating, room temperatures can vary significantly.  As such, the temperature range offers the best guidance.

Beautiful wines glasses

Glassware

There are hundreds of different designs of glasses but one thing that all of the best glasses have in common is that the bowl of the glass narrows at the rim. This allows the aromas in the wine to be concentrated inside the glass and better appreciated.

Typically, red wine glasses are slightly larger than white wine glasses and sparkling wines are served in flutes.

Preparing Wine Glasses

Wine glasses must be completely clean before they are used.  Dirt, or a residue of detergent, can spoil a wine.

Glasses should always be polished before use to ensure that any lingering dirt of finger marks are removed.

Always draw the cork out gently

Opening a Bottle of Still Wine

  • Remove the top of the capsule.  This can be done with a capsule remover or a waiter’s friend corkscrew.  Then clean the neck of the bottle with a cloth.
  • Centre the corkscrew in the middle of the cork.  Screw it into the cork and draw the cork out gently.

Once you have removed the cork, wipe round the inside and outside of the neck with a cloth.

Always hold the bottle at an angle

Opening a Bottle of Sparkling Wine

There is a lot of pressure in a bottle of sparkling wine.  Chilling helps to reduce this pressure, but even when the wine is chilled the cork can easily fly out of the bottle and injure someone.  From the moment you release the wire cage, you should have the cork in your hand at all times.

  • Remove the foil and loosen the wire cage.  As soon as the wire cage has been loosened, you must keep the cork covered with your hand until it is safely out of the bottle.
  • Hold the bottle at an angle.  Hold the cork, turn the bottle.
  • Hold the cork firmly so that the pressure in the bottle does not force the cork out too quickly.  Controlling the cork in this way means that the pressure can be released with a quiet ‘shut’ without any loss of wine. 

Serving Wine

When serving wine, you should take the following steps to ensure that the wine looks and tastes its best.

  • Check the appearance of the wine.  Any haziness could indicate that the wine is faulty.
  • Check there are no bits floating in the wine.
  • Check the aroma of the wine for any faults.  The wine should not smell stale or have aromas of wet cardboard or vinegar.

Keep wine away from air to keep it fresher for longer.

Keeping a Wine Fresh

Once a bottle of wine has been opened it will slowly start to become stale as it reacts with the air.  Keeping a wine in the fridge with the cork in can help to keep the wine fresher for longer.  If you need to keep the wine fresher for even longer, there are some simple systems that you can use to extend the life of a wine by keeping it away from the air.

Vacuum Systems

These systems rely on a pump to remove the air from inside the bottle.

Blanket Systems

These systems pump a gas into the bottles which pushes the air out of the bottle.  The gas will not harm the wine.

If you have any of your own storage and service of wine tips then please share the with SurreyK.

 

Emma xxx