Wine Serving Etiquette

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There is more to inviting friends for a glass of wine than simply opening a bottle and placing it on the table. Instead, true connoisseurs and professional sommeliers have devised a number of rules and regulations that clearly define the appropriate way of serving wine. Wine-serving etiquette varies at times, depending on the kind being enjoyed.

Function

  • Observing proper wine-serving etiquette is not only a sign of good manners, but a way of pairing the right wine with a meal that will complement it. Additionally, paying attention to the right temperature of the wine, using the proper glassware and sundry other details will allow your guests to receive the maximum enjoyment from their glass of wine.

Size

  • There a plethora of wine glasses, all of which differ only slightly. If you are serving red wine, keep it at about 57-64°F and choose a glass with a wide bowl. Serve white wine at 50-54°F in a glass that is slightly narrower. A champagne flute is indicated for a sparkling wine at a temperature of 50-54°F. Pick a sherry glass for port, sherry, and other aroma-rich, heavy wines. Serving temperatures vary, although usually room temperature is indicated.

Benefits

  • When you serve red wine in a glass with a wider bowl, the wine has a chance to breathe. The oxygenation of the aroma is crucial in developing the full tasting experience of of a cabernet or pinot noir. Serving white wine in a narrower glass permits the wine to remain cooler longer; the same design concept is applied to the champagne glass for sparkling wines. Opting for a sherry glass when serving the heavier wines assures a proper development of the aroma.

Misconceptions

  • It is a common misconception that pairing wine and food is best left to the experts. As a general rule, don't pair a heavy wine with a subtle dish. The wine will overpower the palate and the meal will not be adequately tasted. White wine is usually served with fish, while red wine is reserved for meat dishes. The lines blur at times, and if you are in a quandary, check a wine-and-food-matching engine, such as the one on the Wine Lovers' Page (see the link below).

Considerations

  • Open the wine in the kitchen and give it a few minutes to breathe before pouring glasses for the guests. Taste a tiny bit to ensure that the wine is not spoiled. If you are serving different wines with the meal, go from the lightest wine to the one that is the most robust. For example, start with a light-bodied red wine and gradually work your way to the port.

  • Photo Credit Jon Sullivan/Wikimedia Commons
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