When it comes to serving and enjoying wine at its optimal taste, the temperature in which the wine is to be served is one of the simplest and yet one of the most important steps you can take. But a lot of people miss this very common rule, and there are a lot of people who actually miss out on optimal flavors and qualities in great wine, just because the wine was opened and served either too warm or too cold. To answer some of these wine temperature questions, let’s first take a look at the very basics of serving, pouring, tasting and enjoying a glass of wine.
Why chill wine?
Much like storing your wine, keeping your wine at a constant, cool temperature will help to bring out and enhance the wine’s unique flavors and aromas, when opened. But it is very important that your wine is served at the right temperature! It is a common misconception that red wine should always be served at room temperature – this idea is actually misunderstood. When wine was first created, it was stored in underground cellars, which are always slightly cooler than room temperature. But, that being said, when a wine is served too cold, you are going to miss out on all those important flavors and aromas, because they have been too muted by the cool temperature.
What does chilling actually do to the wine?
As the temperatures rise from a pour of chilled wine into a glass, the character of wine will develop into its full potential, where the taster will be able to enjoy the full spectrum of aromas and flavors. When the wine is chilled, the optimal flavors and aromas of the wine are put into a dormant state, which slows down the aging and oxygenating process in the bottle.
What temperature should I serve my wine at?
It depends. Whether your wine is a sparkly French Champagne or a lush and bold California Cabernet Sauvignon, the optimal serving temperature varies by a few factors, including the color of the wine, the body or texture of the wine, and more. Here are a few quick guides:
Full Body Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chianti, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Merlot
Full-bodied reds should be stored at below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but no lower than 45 degrees. The optimum temperature for storing full-bodied reds is between 60 – 65 degrees F. When serving a glass of full-bodied red wine, it should be served on the cool side. This is contrary to the popular belief that red wine should be served at room temperature. Think about it! As we said above, when wine was first created, it was stored in underground cellars and brought up to serve at slightly cooler than room temperature. So when you are drinking a glass of red wine with your dinner, be sure to pop it into the fridge for anywhere from 15 – 20 minutes while you’re cooking.
Full Body Whites: Chardonnay, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, White Bordeaux, White Rioja
Store and serve full-bodied white wines cold, ideally around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. When serving cold white wine such as these and light-bodied white wines, be sure to serve it in a glass with a stem. The glass should be held by the stem, so as not to let the hands warm up the wine, if they are holding the glass by the bowl. Storing full-bodied white wines in the refrigerator right up until the moment of serving is perfectly acceptable – in fact, once you have poured, you should really stick a wine stopper in the bottle and put the wine back into the refrigerator, if you can. If you are unable to do this, an ice bucket is another great alternative.
Light Body Reds: Pinot Noir, Cinsault, Gamay, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Zweigelt, Lambrusco, Some Rosé
Served at a slightly cooler temperature than red wines with medium or full bodies, light bodied reds like the ever popular Pinot Noir optimally should be stored around 55 degrees Fahrenheit and served cool. So if you choose to store a light bodied red wine in your fridge (which is acceptable, but you should probably store it in the door so it doesn’t get packed into the cold, say in the back of the fridge or the crisper drawers – storing in the door gives it a rush of warmer air every time the door is opened), be sure to take it out of your fridge about 30 minutes before you open it.
Light Body Whites: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, Pinot Gris, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Some Rosé, Moscato, Pink Moscato
Serve light-bodied white wines cold, and store them in the refrigerator or in your basement, if you live in a colder climate. Served cold in a glass with a stem, light bodied white wines should form a nice fog of condensation on the glass when they are poured. And much to the chagrin of wine snobs around the world, an ice cube or two in a glass of very light-bodied white wine never hurt anyone – try it in the summertime, it’ll change your life! An ice bucket is optimal for an opened bottle of light bodied white wine, but if you don’t have one available, pop a wine stopper in and put it back in the fridge until you’re ready for the next glass.
Sparkling Wines: Brut Champagne, Brut Rosé, Sparkling Wine (USA), Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Moscato D’Asti
Sparkling wines such as Champagne and Cava should be stored and served at the coldest possible temperature, definitely the coldest of the bunch. 42 degrees Fahrenheit is a perfect temperature to store Champagne and sparkling wine. In other words, keep it in your fridge at all times! This is another wine that does best with an ice bucket after the wine bottle has been opened, as well.
We at WineBaskets.com hope that you find these wine tutorials helpful and informative, and most of all, we hope that your next bottle of wine is the best you’ve ever had. Find a fantastic wine library, wine accessories and enjoy sitewide free shipping always, at WineBaskets.com.
Knowing how to pair your wine with the food that you’re eating may seem like a confusing and daunting task, but there are just a few tricks you need to learn, and pretty soon you will be pairing like a pro. If you are wondering what wine goes with dinner tonight, follow these simple steps! This blog, entitled Six Rules for Perfect Pairing, goes into much more details, but it really can boil down to six very easy to remember rules.
Whether you’re enjoying a few steaks or chicken off the grill on a balmy summer evening, you’re serving up a hot stew that’s been roasting in the slow cooker all winter’s day, or you’re just ordering pizza from the neighborhood parlor, the simple and easy to follow wine guides below will help you know which wine is going to bring out the flavors of your food best, and which foods are going to complement your wine in turn.
Rule 1: Match the richness of the food to the body of the wine.
Rule 2: Match the acidity.
Rule 3: Don’t let the food overpower the wine, or the wine overpower the food.
Rule 4: Offset heat (spicy) with sweet.
Rule 5: Serve your wine at the right temperature.
Rule 6: Match the regional cuisine to the regional wine.
You’re Ready To Pair!
Here’s a helpful list of recommendations and suggestions to get you started. Here at WineBaskets.com, we got together with our in-house Sommelier Christine to get her recommendations on wine pairing by cuisine.
Which Wine Goes With Dinner Tonight?
Few simple pleasures in life are as comforting as Chinese take-out. And when it comes to wine pairing, here is an opportunity to really knock it out of the park. Chinese food varies a lot between meat or no meat, spicy or mild, fatty or light. Remember the rule above – pair heavy with heavy, light with light. So if you are having a dish that is on the heavier side, such as broccoli beef or sesame chicken, opt for a richer, fuller-bodied wine such as Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. For lighter, mild dishes, say, vegetable lo mein or shrimp fried rice, try a light-bodied white. Since these dishes aren’t spicy, it can be on the dry side!
For Heavier Chinese Dishes, ex. Moo Shu Pork, Broccoli Beef:
For Lighter Chinese Dishes, ex. Mushroom Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice:
Walnut Shrimp? Try a medium-bodied Pinot Noir.
Anyone who has ever eaten (or simply smelled) Indian food knows that the dishes are full of flavor! When you are eating Indian food, the most important rule of thumb is to match the wine to the sauce, not the meat (or main ingredient, if you’re eating vegetarian, ie. paneer, potatoes). For example, Tikka Masala’s main ingredient of the sauce is tomatoes, which makes it highly acidic, while Korma’s sauce is creamy and rich, made of cashew powder and heavy cream. The sauce (and Indian food is all about the sauce) determines the wine that you should drink. Another aspect that factors into wine pairing with Indian food is the spice-heat. Commonly, many Indian dishes have some level of spiciness, or at least are made up of a lot of intense spices. Overall, a wine that is on the sweeter side is going to complement the Indian heat better than a dry wine.
- Riesling (especially German)
- American Rosé / White Zinfandel
- Gamay (better known as Beaujolais, a light-bodied red)
- Grenache (another light-bodied red)
Italian / Italian-American Cuisine (and Pizza, too!)
This is one of those cuisines where the sixth rule above really works great. Match Italian wines to your Italian food and you can hardly go wrong, especially if you can match the wine region. Many Italian dishes are tomato-based sauces, so pairing them with wine that is also high in acidity will do the trick (see Rule # 2 above). Again, this is one of those meals where you would match the wine to the sauce before you look at any of the secondary ingredients. A perfect example is chicken parmigiana – yes it is chicken, but you would never want to serve a light sweet white wine, because the chicken is coated in tomato sauce. Match the wine to the sauce!
For tomato-based Italian food, ex. spaghetti, lasagna, red sauce pizza:
For less acidic Italian fare, ex. fettucine alfredo, caccio e pepe, mushroom risotto:
- Full-Bodied White Wines
- Light-Bodied Red Wines
- Pinot Grigio
- Rosso di Montalcino
- Some Chardonnay
Mexican food can be a little bit tricky to pair, but it is safe to say that you can follow the first five main rules above pretty well here, along with pairing latin American wines for that hot-climate flavor. For starters, a lot of Mexican food has a fair amount of spice to it, say for example pollo verde (green salsa chicken) or enchiladas. This is one of those cuisines where you do want to stick to the common rule of white meat, white wine, however, not necessarily red meat, red wine! Confused yet? Wine Folly has a ton of excellent suggestions for different Mexican dishes to pair with wine!
Because of our great melting pot of a country, American food is steeped in influences from all over the world, especially France and Germany. While the general pairing rules usually stick – white meat, white wine / red meat, red wine, the first five rules above are equally as important. And as for the sixth rule of region-matching, you can follow that pretty well by looking at the influence of the dish, too! Here’s a really easy chart to follow – click on the image to enlarge and print it out for yourself!
Even More Helpful Wine Advice from the Experts at Uncorked
How to Properly Store Wine
How to Use a Decanter
Which Glass Is Right For My Wine?
One of the most common questions we get asked at WineBaskets.com is how you should store your wine, both before you have opened it, and after you have opened it. To help answer these common and confusing questions – we’ve created a simple guide to help you, as a wine lover, can get the most life and the best results out of your wine. Plus, you will look like the genius with all the answers to questions about wine at the next dinner party or wine tasting you go to! Let’s dive in and find out how to properly store your wine, and how to store your wine once it has been opened.
Storing Wine Before It Has Been Opened
Tip #1: The most important thing to remember about storing wine before you are ready to open it is this:
CONSTANT, COOL TEMPERATURE.
Heat is enemy number one for all wine! Keeping your wine (and this goes for both red and white wines, as well as sparkling wine and Champagne, Port, and everything in between) at a constant cool temperature is the most important aspect of keeping your wine in a drinkable state. Whether or not it is a wine that ages well, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or should be enjoyed while it is still young, such as a Pinot Grigio, the outer temperature surrounding the bottle is of utmost, crucial importance. High temperatures, for example, above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or rises and dips in temperature will change the chemical make up of the wine. It will age a wine quicker than is natural for the bottle, collapsing the aromas, the flavors and the all-important texture of the wine. Have you ever heard someone say “this wine is cooked”? That is the result of wine being stored in too high of a temperature.
Keep your wine between 45 to a maximum of 65 degrees F. A basement is the ideal place to store unopened wine, because of the cool temperature and the lack of sunlight (we will get to that in a minute). Don’t go below 45 degrees (like storing wine in the refrigerator) for a few reasons – the cork can dry out and allow more air to seep into the wine, or the wine could start to freeze and expand, breaking the bottle or the cork. If you do not have a basement, store your wine in a place that is dark and cool, such as the floor of your kitchen pantry. Heat rises, so putting your wine bottles close to the ground and in a dark place is a good idea.
One of the things we have been noticing is that there is a trend of new homes having a wine rack built in above the refrigerator. This is the worst place to store your wine! All the heat from the back of the refrigerator is going to destroy that wine. So if you live in a home with a built in rack above the fridge, by all means necessary, move that wine out of there and into a cool place with a constant temperature.
And avoid big temperature swings! Minor fluctuations are pretty much unavoidable, but big swings in temperature, say 10 degrees or more at a time, the liquid inside the wine bottle will expand and contract, which will also have a terrible effect on the quality of the wine.
Tip #2: The second most important thing to remember about storing wine before you are ready to open it:
All light can be potentially bad for wine storage, but natural light (think from the SUN, aka UV light) is especially dangerous for wine storage. This is because the UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun can also prematurely age wine. This is one of the main reasons why many winemakers use colored glass for wine bottles! Think of it like a little pair of sunglasses for your wine! If natural light is something you can avoid, please do.
Florescent light bulbs also emit small amounts of UV rays, so if you are storing your wine in the basement or in another cool place, consider changing out the florescent tube bulbs for incandescent lights. If this is not going to be possible for you, just try not to keep the lights on for too long of stretches of time.
Tip #3: The third most important thing you can do when storing unopened wine:
KEEP THE BOTTLE ON ITS SIDE.
Wine bottles with corks should always be stored on their sides. Why? Because this keeps some liquid touching the cork so that it will not dry out! Even if your bottles are mostly screw caps (which is quite popular these days and there is nothing wrong with a screw cap!) we still recommend keeping wine stored on its side, as it is the most efficient way and will not hurt any bottle.
Storing Wine After It Has Been Opened
Once your wine – be it red wine, white wine, sparkling wine or a dessert wine – has been opened, you really only have a few days to consume the rest of it. And since oxygen turns wine into vinegar, there are a few things you can do to slow down that process and still enjoy the wine that you could not polish off.
1. The same rules apply to opened wine as they do to unopened: constant cool temperature and avoid light. Keep the wine in the refrigerator – yes, even red wine!
2. Put the cork back in the bottle, and your wine will last 3 – 5 days in the refrigerator. However, you can make it last even longer with a few other tools, such as an inert gas perserver (this replaces the oxygen that has gotten into the bottle with argon, which is heavier than oxygen and keeps the wine from oxidizing) or a vaccum pump, which removes all the oxygen from the bottle. You can find both of these tools in Wine Enthusiast’s online shop.
3. Get a Champagne stopper. This is one of the best accessories you can have for preserving your sparkling wines. Wine Folly’s Italian-made Champagne stopper is the best on the market.
4. Store all opened wines upright! This will minimize the amount of oxygen in the bottle.
We hope this has been helpful in your process of learning how to properly store wine, before and after opening!
Check back on Uncorked soon for even more helpful wine tutorials.
So you just got your first wine decanter. Great! Or maybe there’s a wine decanter at the back of your cupboard – why not use it tonight? Wine decanters are amazing tools that truly help you bring out the best flavors, aromas and bouquets in your favorite bottle of wine. But do you know how to use a decanter properly? With just a few easy tips and a set of simple instructions, you’ll be well on your way to decanting and aerating your wine like the pros.
What is a decanter, exactly?
The process of decanting wine is literally to pour the contents of your wine bottle from one vessel to another, and a decanter is a bottle (or vase, or some other shape) that is made specifically for the purpose. Most of the time, people then serve the wine from the decanter, but in wine bottle service settings, the decanted wine is poured back into the bottle so that the customer can see the label. Typically, wine decanters are made from glass or crystal.
Why do we need to decant wine?
Decanting separates the wine from the sediment. Sediment is organic matter that forms in wine as it ages. With a gravel-like, sandy texture, sediment is unsightly in the glass, and also it affects the taste of the wine. It can make the wine taste more stringent. So when you carefully and slowly decant wine, you’re separating that beautiful clear wine from the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. First off let it be noted that not every wine needs to be decanted. Light bodied wines, young wines, and a few varietals do not need to be decanted. Most of the time, decanting wine is more necessary with older vintages or full-bodied single varietals (think Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel). However, decanting an old Burgundy or Pinot Noir I would advise against – even though it is old and a single varietal, the body of the wine is too light and it will be exposed to too much oxygen (I’ll get to that in a minute).
Which brings me to the second reason for you to decant your wine: this is because the wine also gets aerated in the process. Think about it – we know that wine has been in an air-tight bottle for at least a year, and it is commonly known that when the air hits that wine, the flavors and bouquets are going to develop as the wine breathes after all that time in the bottle. So when you decant a bottle of wine, you’re pouring ALL the wine out of the bottle into another vessel – that will definitely help a LOT of air reach the wine. By the time it is ready to sip and enjoy, the wine has been fully exposed to the air, bringing out all it’s special flavors, textures and aromas.
So how do you use a decanter for wine?
Once you get the hang of it, decanting wine is very easy (and you look like a wine professional at the same time – win, win – or should I say, wine, wine). The benefits to be had from decanting and aerating are many, and they reward the patient wine lover, from the novice to the discerning connoisseur. Simply follow these steps and you’ll be decanting like the pros in no time:
Step One. First, make sure that the bottle has been sitting in an upright position for at least 24 hours. Since most of our household wine racks these days store the bottles on their sides, it is a good idea to set yourself a reminder the day before, to stand the bottle up. The reason you want the bottle upright for 24 hours is because sediment sinks. In standing the bottle up for a day, all the sediment will sink to the bottom, and this will make it much easier for you to decant the wine.
Step Two. Clean off your decanter. Make doubly sure that your decanter is clean and dry, free from any dust or debris, inside and out. The best way to do this is with a microfiber towel – you can easily find microfiber towels in any big box store. Wipe down the decanter outside and inside, making sure that all the dust and debris is gone. Dust and debris can affect the taste of the wine.
Step Three. Remove the capsule and then remove the cork, wiping the bottle neck clean. Also, a lot of people don’t bother to remove the foil or wax capsule of the wine before going at that cork with a corkscrew, but I would recommend that you do. You do run the risk of accidentally getting foil or wax shavings into the wine. Secondly, historically, foil and wax was used to seal the cork inside the bottle and protect the cork from being nibbled on by critters. And so the tradition stands and virtually every bottle has a capsule these days. And don’t forget to take that microfiber towel to the bottle neck again, too! Same goes with steps two and three: make sure all the dust is removed from everywhere.
Step Four. Hold a light behind the neck of the bottle, and pour half of the wine slowly and steadily into the decanter. You may feel the urge to hold the decanter, but don’t worry – the heavy crystal will keep the decanter from tumbling over. You can use one hand on the bottle, one hand on the flashlight.
Step Five. Pour VERY slowly, and as soon as you see sediment in the neck of the bottle, STOP! If you followed STEP ONE and truly let that sediment settle to the bottom of the bottle, this should only leave an ounce or two undrinkable, and you can throw it away. Remember that not all sediment is going to look totally gravelly – a lot of the time, the wine will just start to look cloudy or you’ll see little specks in the neck of the bottle.
Cheers! You’re ready to serve your wine from the decanter.
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