Monolithos Wine Dimensions: May 2016
When serving a bottle of wine for a small or a large group, it is important to take into consideration certain basic procedures sometimes misunderstood and claimed as unnecessary snobberies or rituals. Yet, they play an important role in enhancing our enjoyment of the wine, as this is a volatile beverage that reacts to temperature, air, and light. Serving wine properly can bring the best aroma and taste out of a wine.
Opening and serving a bottle of wine correctly is not just a matter of style. Firstly, this operation ensures that both the bottle and its accessories needed to keep and maintain wine, are in good health and condition as well as making sure the wine is not altered or damaged by any possible defect. In the following paragraphs you will find a few simple suggestions and some good tips on the most vital wine serving aspects to be considered by any wine oenophile.
Temperature is first and foremost among the many factors influencing the enjoyment of wine. To enjoy wine at its best, you need to know the correct serving temperature to ensure that the wine is served in its best condition.
White wines that are served too cold tend to lose taste, becoming dull and flavourless. If you buy the wine the same day you want to drink it, either leave it in the fridge for several hours, or place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. To chill a bottle quickly, fill a bucket with ice and water and let sit for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. To keep white wine chilled after removing it from the refrigerator, fill up a container with ice and rest the bottle on top.
Red wines, on the other hand, can taste acidic and metallic when served too cold. The most common misconception with red wine is that it is ideal to serve it at room temperature, when in fact serving it cool is the best way to enjoy it. Let’s not forget that room temperature in places like Cyprus is not the same as room temperature in France or England! A bottle of red wine that appears warm to the touch ought to be refrigerated until the bottle seems cool – not cold, and ideally should be served at 14°-18°C. To cool red wine down to its proper temperature, it could be placed in the fridge for an hour before serving it.
A second but also important factor is the use of the right accessory for opening a wine bottle. Just as wine drinkers prefer different styles of wines, many also have a preference to the style of corkscrew they like to use. Some prefer the traditional method of using a waiter’s style corkscrew, as do most servers in restaurants. Others enjoy the sleek motion of the lever style or twist corkscrews, and those that are looking for the easiest way to open a bottle typically opt for an air pressure driven or electric corkscrew. http://www.printglobe.com/images/subcategories/sid277-wine_and_bottle_openers_pg.jpg
The most popular is the sommelier knife or “waiter’s friend” which resembles a pocket knife and has a small blade for cutting foil and a screw with a bottle brace. It is extremely portable but requires moderate skill. The doubled-hinged (two-step) version of this simple device is the favoured opener of most professional servers and bartenders. A model with a Teflon-coated worm (the actual corkscrew) will make for easy entry into the cork. One drawback of this device is that the knife that’s included on some models can be difficult to get around the foil on the neck of the bottle because of its small size.
Another popular type of wine opener uses air pressure. These openers have a needle that goes through the cork and a small C02 cartridge that provides just the right amount of power to safely push your cork out. The air pressure wine openers are a great choice when a large number of bottles need to be opened quickly. However, some claim that the creation of an internal pressure inside the bottle is damaging to the wine.
The easiest, and maybe the coolest, way to open a bottle of wine is with an electric push button corkscrew. This motorized corkscrew will do all the work for you at the push of a button by removing the cork and releasing it from the worm. These are perfect for those who may not have a lot of hand strength, and they also make wonderful gifts. The worm enters and releases the cork easily, but removing the cork from the bottle doesn’t always go smoothly. They are relatively inexpensive but they do need to be charged before use. A forth style of opener is known as a “Rabbit” style corkscrew which permits the user to squeeze the clamps around the top of a wine bottle, push the lever down into the cork and then pull up to remove it. With a simple push and pull open of the lever, the cork is removed from the bottle. They are also available in table-mounted options as well. This is perhaps the best corkscrew for true beginners. It’s fast, easy to use and has the satisfaction of the “pop” of a cork included. The only real drawback to this opener is that a lever corkscrew takes up a lot of drawer space. Some come with their own cases or stands, which could take up needed counter space. Furthermore, if you tend to drink wines that typically use synthetic corks, make sure you are getting one of the more durable options as not all will work with those corks.
Finally, “Winged-Style ‘Butterfly’” corkscrews are of the old-style model with “wings” that lift as you twist the corkscrew into the cork. As you pull the wings down, the cork lifts out. There are many variations but basically the worm (the actual “screw” part) shreds apart most corks. Their main advantages are that they are inexpensive (usually €2 to €10), they are relatively compact and are easy to use. Perhaps their main disadvantage is that this type of corkscrew lacks durability. Parts can become bent or lose if frequently used.
The third accessory that could enhance or destroy your enjoyment is the wine glass you use. There are hundreds of styles of wine glasses designed for different purposes and types of wine. But for most wine drinking and wine tasting, a few key characteristics can make your choice of wine glasses easy. Here are a few guidelines to help you choose:
· Select two different types or sizes of wine glasses, smaller glasses for white wine and larger for red wine.
· Generally, more full-bodied wines work best in slightly larger glasses while lighter, fruitier wines can do well in smaller glasses. The reason that white wine glasses need to be smaller is that white wine should not warm up too much before it is consumed. As for the size of red wine glasses, the more generous, the better, to allow for a third fill and the rest of the glass permitting aeration.
· No matter what glass you choose to buy, the ones that work best are those that have stems. This is because the stem ensures your hand doesn’t touch the bulb of the glass, which would warm the wine. It also makes it much easier to swirl the wine when you initially taste it, and more fun to clink the glass for a cheers!
Some additional useful tips regarding selecting and using wine glasses:
· If you buy glasses that are dishwasher safe, choose stems that are not too fragile or too long.
· Select a balloon-shaped wineglass to allow the wine to promote a better flavour and develop its full bouquet. Wine needs room to breathe and a tapered shape is best for releasing the aroma. This is particularly true of red wines, which is why most red wine glasses have wider bowls to promote oxidation.
· Always rinse glasses before use if they have been unused for a while or are new. Rinsing with hot water before use can remove any detergent residue which can cause the bubbles in sparkling wine to go flat.
· Whatever you choose, avoid glasses that flare outward at the top as these make assessing a fine wine almost impossible.
· Always avoid very small glasses.
· Store the glasses properly. There is an increasing habit to store all glasses upside down. For wine glasses, this is not a good idea as it traps stale air. Instead, stand them upright in a closed cupboard. Any glass not used for a while needs to be washed before use.
· For serving fine wines, choose glasses that are clear in colour and do not have any painted or etched decorations.
A bottle of wine contains just 750 ml so it’s common to see it portioned out into five 150 ml servings. A proper pour is actually half of that. There are two good reasons for this. First, you don’t want to over-serve people. Also, since you don’t know how much people want to drink, this means that you never put too much wine in a guest’s glass who’s too polite to refuse.
The process of serving a wine appears to be easy enough. However, we often hear about debates over whether a specific wine needs to “breathe” before being served. Decanting is one of those elements of wine service that creates heated arguments between “experts”. Fundamentally, decanting serves two purposes – to separate a wine from any sediment that may have formed, and to aerate a wine in the hope that its aromas and flavours will be more vibrant upon serving.
Any wine, both white and red, can be decanted. Decanting is also a great trick to ensure a wine is more likely to please all of your guests. The contact the wine has with the air rounds out the wine and makes it more pleasing to most people’s taste buds, plus if you have a nice decanter, it looks attractive sitting on the table prior to being served. Remember – we taste with our eyes as much as we do with our nose and tongue.
Decanting is also the process of separating sediments from the clear wine. It’s fairly safe to assume that a red will have accumulated sediment after five to 10 years in the bottle, even if this can’t be verified visually, and therefore should be decanted. http://www.thewinesociety.com/Resources/feature_images/wwn/serving-wine-decanting.jpgThere is hardly a wine that is worse after being decanted, so if you like this idea, go ahead, even if you are doing so simply because you think it looks better on the table. To decant a wine, pour it directly into your decanting vessel 15 to 20 minutes before you want to serve it. Just let it sit – then serve.
Finally, if you are using more than one type of wine you should preferably keep an eye on the following order of serving wine: white wines before red, and dry (“sec”) wines before sweet.
Food is the real determining factor though. The most important goal is to choose the wines that best suit your menu and serve them in that order. When you plan your food/wine matches, you can start either with the food or with the wine. Generally, you will set the menu first and then select the wine, based on how it will complement the food.
People who love wine generally consume more of it at home than anywhere else. And regardless of the quality of their glasses or the extent of their cellars, those who most enjoy wine at home share one attribute: a commitment to drinking it.
Educating ourselves about wine and its proper use can only help us to enjoy it to the fullest, and to make it part of a gracious way of life.