How To Serve Wine
Why Is Wine Service Important?
Beyond answering the question above, what is a serving of wine, and what exactly does it entail?
The effort put into producing any bottle of wine is a lengthy process that requires passion, insight, and a genuine interest in wine culture. Serving wine at home doesn’t require you to be a sommelier, but if you want to make sure that you take all the right steps to highlight the wines you’re serving correctly, then read on for helpful tips curated by seasoned oenophiles and established by winemakers.
Types Of Wine Glasses
Serving wine with care and consideration begins with sourcing the right glasses for each type of wine. But why is this so important? Not only does serving wine in the correct glass improve the taste of the wine, but it also allows for the wine vapors to carry aromatic compounds into your nose.
Red Wine Glasses
In your quest to learn how to serve wine, we can start with the essential wine glass. Your choice of glass will be the vessel that mitigates the bitterness of tannins or spicy flavors for a delectable tasting experience.
You’ll experience a smoother finish from red wines if served in glasses with a wide opening. However, the distance to the actual fluid influences what you smell. Here are the red wine vessels that you’ll need:
Large Bordeaux Glass
- Serve wines that are bolder and richer with this glass. Consider Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Alicante Bouschet, or Bordeaux blends
- The Bordeaux option delivers more aroma compounds that are usually much further from the nose
- The larger surface will allow for the ethanol in the wine to evaporate
Standard Red Wine Glass
- A standard glass for reds is perfect for medium- to full-bodied red wines with higher alcohol content and spicy notes.
- Serve Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec and Petite Syrah from this type of glass
- If there are more spicy notes present, the smaller opening will help soften these characteristics
Aroma Collector Bourgogne Glass
- For lighter, more delicate wines, this type will do the work to bring forth the subtle aromas
- The larger bowl collects the aromas of Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Gamay, and even Nebbiolo
White Wine Glasses
White wine glasses ought to be served in smaller bowled glasses that can help to preserve floral aromas.
- A white wine glass will help maintain a cooler wine serving temperature and allow for more acidity to be expressed
- Because of the distance to the nose, more aromas are delivered from wines like oak-aged Chardonnay, Viognier, White Rioja, and orange wines
- Riedel’s Montrachet glass is a perfect example of a white wine serving option that highlights the creamier textures that are prevalent
Sparkling Wine Glasses
- You may serve your Champagne and other forms of sparkling wines in the same vessels
- The coupe and the tapering wine glass are perfect examples of vessels for serving bubbly. However, coupes may not hold the effervescence of sparkling wines for very long, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing
- A universal option like a Zalto Denk’Art Universal may just be the best choice as a tapering glass and can also be used for Rosé
- The ideal glass needs to allow for breathing and should narrow towards the top to bundle all the flavors on the palate
For years, the Champagne flute was considered the very best option when serving bubbly. Yet, over the last couple of years, it has gradually lost favor amongst oenophiles.
- Instead, a glass with a broader bowl that tapers to the top will capture the subtle nuances within the layers of aroma present in your wine
- The very same glass can also double-up as the perfect choice for serving your Riesling or Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Serving Temperature
Every type of bottle has its ideal wine serving temperature. The most important one at hand involves red wine service.
Red Wine Serving Temperature
- As a general rule, most red wines perform well at room temperature, but that may not always be the case
- Opt for a slightly cooler temperature range of around 60-70° F, but remove your wine from the fridge 15-20 minutes before serving
- Alternatively, if you don’t wish to store red wines in your fridge, allow bottles to cool off in the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving, but do so with your discretion
White Wine Serving Temperature
White wines almost always end up in the fridge but avoid storing bottles at room temperature. The ideal range falls between 50-60° F for storage.
- If you plan to drink your white wine directly after purchase, you can place it in the freezer for no more than 30 minutes - allowing it to cool to a desirable temperature
- Try not to place your white wine on ice or to keep it in the fridge after opening. As the wine’s temperature rises, the taste will change, and for some, it delivers a great experience. If this isn’t what you prefer, then you may serve it at a consistently cooler temperature
Sparkling Wine Serving Temperature
There’s no doubt that sparkling wine’s crispness ought to be preserved, and that warm bubbles may not have the desired effect.
- Serve ideally at 40° to 50° F to preserve the fizz’s fresh fruit and help keep the bubbles fine instead of frothy
- This rule also applies to most white dessert wines and will preserve their balance of flavors without harming the accompanying aromas
Champagne Serving Temperature
Two words will suffice for this form of bubbly: ice cold.
- Serve your Champagne at around 40-50° F. The easiest way to chill bottles right before serving is by storing them in the freezer for an hour and then letting them sit 10 minutes at room temperature.
Standard Wine Pouring
Is there a standard wine serve or way to pour wine? There is indeed, and while it may seem alright to pour as you wish, there are factors to consider regarding the ideal serving volume for each glass.
Irrespective of the glass you choose, always remember to hit the 5-ounce mark, usually where the widest part of the bowl often lies.
Should I Pick the Wine Glass Up?
While there may be no rule set in place here, etiquette dictates leaving the wine glass on the table as you serve.
- As you pour the wine, make sure to turn the label up, so it’s visible
- Grip the bottle with your right hand, as specified by the Court of Master Sommelier service standards. However, it’s not the end of the world if you choose to use the left hand instead
- Before you serve at the 5-ounce mark, pour about 1-ounce for the distinguished guest to taste
Food And Wine Pairing
Now we’re getting to the good part: serving the best possible fare with your wine selections. There isn’t much science behind it, but there are a few things to consider.
Food Pairing With Red Wine
We’ve all heard that red wine and steak are a match made in viticulture heaven, but surely we can be a bit more imaginative, right?
- Lighter reds are perfect for your greens, and a more savory red like a Pinot Noir, for instance, will come to life with a dish that has more earthy depth. On the other hand, a Burgundy will do well with mushrooms or cheese flatbread to accentuate the wine’s complex umami notes
- Bolder red wines with more concentrated flavors can work well with something a bit chewier and textured like your steaks and lamb chops. Generally speaking, the leaner the meat, the lighter your wine should be
- If you have a bold red that delivers smooth tannins, you don’t have to pair it with red meat. Vegetarian stews, chicken dishes, and fish like salmon may also work with reds that aren’t too tannic
Food Pairing With White Wine
Think shrimp, crab, and lobster if you favor seafood.
- Do note that maybe a dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc may need to be served for your dishes to be balanced
- White wines work with salads, and light appetizers will harmonize well with the likes of Chardonnays
- More pungent cheeses always work well with red wine, whereas milder cheese like Havarti, Gouda, and Muenster are enjoyable with white wines.
Food Pairing With Sparkling Wine
Most sparkling wines are made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so there’ll be ample amounts of earthy minerality. Flavor profiles like apple, lemon, lime, and pear will pair exceptionally with a wide range of dishes.
Pair your bubbles with caviar, smoked salmon, cheese platters, potpies, and Asian dishes of all kinds.
Food Pairing With Champagne
Non-vintage Blanc de Blancs will simple create absolute magic alongside fresh oysters or a soft cheese like a young Camembert. A vintage Blanc de Blanc and lobster is the way to go if you want to make your guests swoon.
Demi-sec, on the other hand, can be served with your desserts of choice, and save your vintage Rosé for those roast venisons.
Knowing how to serve wine is one of the most fundamental skills if you enjoy hosting dinner parties. Adding that extra touch will go a long way towards crafting a memorable experience for your guests.