Whether it’s a crisp Zinfandel or a full-bodied Merlot, wine is an alcoholic drink beloved by many. It’s enjoyable at various points throughout the day, whether it’s at a quick brunch or a romantic dinner. Wine also pairs great with a meal, whether that’s a simple pasta dish or a heavy steak and mashed potatoes. Many break open a bottle of wine for celebratory purposes, while others use it as a night cap or a pick me up after a long day. With wine being such a frequently-consumed drink, it’s alarming how many aren’t aware of how to maximize their wine drinking experience. There are certain factors to take into consideration in order to ensure ultimate enjoyment. Here are a few ways you can maximize the potential of your bottle of wine.
Choice of glassware is key
The glass that wine is served in greatly affects the quality of the beverage once poured out of the bottle. There are many types of glassware, each designed for a specific type of wine.
Variations in the size of the glass bowl, the thickness of the rim, and the length of the stem, will all determine whether the drinker can experience the full capacity of the wine’s tastes and aromas.
Depending on the type of wine you’re serving, you can follow this simple guide for choosing glassware for your wine.
Compared to white wine, red wine is higher in tannin and ABV. You’ll therefore need a taller glass with a large bowl to create as much space possible between the wine and the tongue.
Using a glass with a bigger bowl to serve red wine allows the tannins to better oxidize. This takes away some of that bitterness.
If you have a full-bodied red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, a Bordeaux glass is recommended. This glass has a long stem and a wide bowl.
Lighter-bodied reds like the Pinot Noir goes better in a Burgundy glass. This glass has a wider rim, which allows the palate to pick up more of the wine’s flavors.
White wine is lighter-bodied than red wine. It has less intense flavors, so it can’t be enjoyed with the same glass.
How do you drink white wine? Instead of a wine glass with a large bowl, glasses for white wine usually sport a smaller bowl and slightly thinner rim.
For example, the Chardonnay glass has a wide opening, which gives the wine room to move along the sides of the glass. This enables you to savor in the wine’s sweetness.
The tapered bowl entraps the aromas of the wine in the bottom, so that you’re hit with fresh citrusy whiffs every time you tilt the glass to drink.
Rosé is also served in similar glasses.
Champagne flutes are best for serving anything fizzy. The slim bowl gives the bubbles in the champagne less space to oxidize. This helps maintain the carbonation for a lot longer than if the champagne were to be served in a wider glass.
Every wine is better enjoyed when chilled, but the temperature at which to serve it depends greatly on what kind of wine it is.
You can follow this as a general guide:
- White wine: 44 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit
- Red wine: 53 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sparkling wine: 38 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit
Here are some ways you can chill your wine before serving.
Use a damp towel
Take a damp towel and wrap it around the bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer.
As the towel freezes, it will start to affect the temperature of the wine.
Put the bottle in an ice bath
Fill an ice bucket with ice cubes and water, and sprinkle some salt over it. The salt may seem counterintuitive, but its purpose is to lower the water’s freezing point so that it doesn’t freeze over quickly.
Place your wine bottle in the bucket and wait until it’s properly chilled.
Store wine bottles in the fridge
When chilling wine in the fridge, place it on its side instead of right side up. In this position, the wine can keep the cork moist. This avoids it drying up and becoming odorous inside the bottle.
Storing the wine this way also makes it easier for you to see the labels.
If you’re a collector, you might want to consider getting a wine fridge!
Drink at wine o’clock
While many aren’t particular about what time of day they enjoy their wine, some have weighed in on the optimum hours for drinking wine.
Experts say that “wine o’clock” is any appropriate meal time, meaning you can have wine with any meal. However, other wine tasters have claimed that 11am – 1pm is the height of wine tasting hours.
During this window, the mouth is apparently dryer. Any later than that, saliva build up in the mouth can alter the taste of the wine.
Serve with the right dish
The flavors in all types of wine are able to complement the tastes in a dish. But you can’t just pair any wine with any menu.
It’s important to examine your wine’s characteristics in order to match your wine to your food.
When pairing congruently, you elevate the flavors present in both your dish and your wine.
When pairing in contrast, you aim to identify tastes in your food and pair it with a wine which has opposite flavors.
Finding the perfect food and wine pairing is a skill that takes time and experimentation to hone. However, many follow these easy tips:
- Pair red wine with heavier meats such as steak or meat pie
- Pair white wine with lighter meats such as seafood and chicken
- Enjoy fortified wine as is, before a meal as an aperitif or after a meal as dessert. You can also pair it with nuts, cheese, and chocolate-heavy desserts
- When in doubt, pair your wine with the sauce