Last week we took a look at how different a wine can taste depending on the shape of the glass. Who knew?!
As I mentioned then though, it takes a lot more than just a glass to ensure your wine is presented in the best light. In this post, Part 2 of “How to serve wine”, I’ll explain a few other important things to keep in mind when pouring your latest drop.
There is one basic principle to remember here… the warmer the serving temperature, the more aroma a wine will have (and vice versa). You can make a wine taste much better (or much worse), simply by adjusting the temperature.
This idea comes in very handy if you’re ever in the awful position of having to suffer through a cheap and stinky bottle of wine. Chill it and it will make all the difference!
No need to do this for Somerled wines of course. But you may find it handy to refer to this guide to get the best out of your wine…
- RED WINE: best served slightly below room temperature from 12 °C – 18 °C (light red wines like Pinot Noir taste better at the cooler end of the spectrum)
- WHITE WINE: tastes best from about 8 °C – 12°C. (more aromatic whites like sauvignon blanc are best served on the cool side and oak-aged whites, like chardonnay on the warm side)
- SPARKLING WINE: tastes great at 6 °C – 8 °C
And here is a handy little graphic I found…
Most wines will benefit from decanting.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule…
Very old red and white wines are usually too frail. Vigourous decanting can destroy these wines. Also, Rob’s red wines… in particular the Shiraz. Rob does a lot of decantling-like activity in the winery (otherwise know as “rack and return”) so you don’t have to do it at home!
Wines which respond to decanting the best are young reds and young oaked whites. Exposure to air can have a massive effect on a wine. And in a young wine, it can mimic the aging process to a certain extent. Tannic, astringent young reds and tight, uncommunicative whites can seem much more approachable after being exposed to the air for an hour or two.
Also, if you buy VERY “affordable” wine on the days you don’t drink Somerled, it’s not uncommon to smell rotten egg. It happens (even in some more expensive wines) and it’s not bad for you. It’s a minor wine fault that is caused when wine yeast doesn’t get enough nutrients while fermenting. Decanting a cheap wine will often alter the chemical state of these stinky aroma compounds, making them more palatable.
Even though the word “decant” sounds a bit pompous, all it really involves is pouring wine from the bottle into another vessel preferably made of neutral glass. You don’t need a fancy, difficult to pour from, decanter (even though they do look good on the table). We use a water jug from IKEA when we’re not entertaining! You really just have to ensure that the wine gets as much exposure to the air.
Another reason to decant a wine, and why we do it on our older reds at the cellar bar, is to remove any sediment. To separate the wine from the sediment it helps to stand the bottle upright for an hour or so. Then, using a carefully placed candle or a strong light source, pour the wine from the sediment against the light. See this nifty picture I found…
What is “double-decanting”?
This is just the term used for when a wine is decanted off the sediment, the bottle washed and then the sediment-free wine is returned to the original bottle.
3. Leftover wine
Yep, apparently, it’s a thing!
If you do happen to have wine leftover at the end of the night… how long should you keep it for?
All jokes aside, this is something we take close note of at the cellar bar. We obviously don’t finish every bottle of wine, every night so we definitely keep track of when each bottle was opened.
The important thing here is to try an limit the amount of oxygen exposure. Prolonged exposure to air can take away all that lovely fruit and oxidise the wine.
Other than drinking your wine quickly at home, you can avoid oxidation by decanting leftover wine into a smaller bottle (to reduce the amount of oxygen). You can also buy canisters of neutral gas which you can squirt into the space between the wine and the stopper.
Because heat speeds up chemical reactions, you can slow the deterioration of an open bottle of wine by storing it in the fridge. Just remember to bring red wines out in good time before serving!
Oh… but I haven’t really answered the question, have I? Here is another great graphic from www.winefolly.com to use as a guide. It really does depend on the quality of the wine though. Personally, I would say 5 days for most wines is pushing your luck!
Anything else you’d like to know about serving wine? Ask away!
And, while you’re waiting for the answer, scrub up on how to store your wines before you even think about opening them here.