As any wine enthusiast well knows, serving wine is not just about uncorking the bottle and haphazardly pouring it into any old glass you can find. After all, why do you think it’s customary to pour wine at a table rather than bringing over a glass of it pre-filled?
The perfect pour requires finesse and attention to detail, allowing you to fully appreciate the flavors and aromas of the wine. Whether you’re hosting a formal dinner party or enjoying a casual evening with friends, we’ve put together some tips on how to serve wine like a pro.
Start with the Right Temperature
Temperature plays a crucial role in wine appreciation. Serving wine at the right temperature can enhance its flavors and aromas, while serving it too cold or too warm can dull its characteristics and result in an otherwise incredible wine tasting bland and uninteresting.
Generally, red wines are best served at room temperature (around 60-68°F / 15-20°C), while white wines are typically chilled (around 45-55°F / 7-13°C) and sparkling wines are served chilled (around 40-50°F / 5-10°C).
You’ve got two simple options here to ensure you are serving your wine at the optimal temperature – either purchase a wine thermometer, or get yourself a wine chiller which can be set at a predetermined temperature rather than defaulting to the same temperature as the rest of your fridge.
Choose the Right Glassware
The right glassware can greatly enhance the wine tasting experience – it’s for good reason that different wines are best served in different glasses!
Use wine glasses that are clear and thin, allowing you to appreciate the wine’s color and aroma, and ensure that you are serving in the right glasses suited to your kind of wine:
- For white wines, opt for glasses with a smaller bowl to preserve the wine’s cooler temperature.
- For red wines, instead choose glasses with a larger bowl and a tapered rim to capture the wine’s aromas.
- For sparkling wines, use flute glasses to maintain the bubbles and preserve the wine’s effervescence.
Uncorking the Bottle
When it’s time to open the bottle, make sure you have a good-quality corkscrew on hand – if you’re looking for a recommendation, be sure to check out our wine bottle opener guide to find the right one for you.
- Remove the foil or capsule from the top of the bottle, and insert the corkscrew into the center of the cork.
- Twist the corkscrew gently, pulling the cork out slowly to avoid breaking it, and if you’re serving an older wine – to avoid disturbing the sediment (the alternative here it to subsequently decant).
- If you’re serving a sparkling wine, always be sure to use caution when opening as the pressure inside the bottle can cause the cork to pop out forcefully – even if the wine has been well kept and well stored.
Decanting for Aeration (red only)
Decanting is a process of transferring wine from its bottle to a decanter, allowing it to aerate and release its flavors and aromas.
It’s particularly beneficial for young red wines with high tannins, as decanting can soften the wine and enhance its taste. Past this, it’s also a recommendation for specifically older wines, as decanting will allow the sediment in the wine to settle and avoid serving it to your guests (or yourself!).
To decant, slowly pour the wine into a clean decanter, avoiding any sediment at the bottom of the bottle if possible.
While you will hear different recommendations from different people, our rule of thumb is to always aim to let the wine rest for around 30-60 minutes before serving to allow it to aerate fully.
Pouring like a pro
To achieve the perfect pour, hold the wine bottle by the base or the punt (the indentation at the bottom of the bottle) to avoid warming the wine with your hand.
Tilt the glass at a slight angle and pour the wine slowly into the glass, to allow the wine to cascade gently down the sides. Suffice to say, for a red or white wine you should always make sure that you are leaving enough space for the wine to swirl and release its aromas.
For sparkling wines, the job is more simple – just pour slowly to prevent the wine from foaming up and overflowing.
When serving wine at a formal dinner party, it’s traditionally customary in Western cultures to serve the wine from the left-hand side of the guest, using your right hand to hold the bottle and your left hand to support the base of the glass.
Hold the bottle at a slight angle, pouring the wine smoothly and gracefully into the glass.
Most importantly – know your wine before you pour it
Be knowledgeable about the wine you’re serving. If you’re on FineWineMaster, you’re already in the right place for this!
Familiarize yourself with the wine’s origin, grape varietal, vintage, and any special characteristics it may have – including the kinds of food it pairs well with, and why – especially if you’re serving at a dinner party. Sharing this information with your guests can significantly enhance the overall experience of drinking the wine, and after all, it’s always great to learn a little about what you’re having!