Wine for Beginners: Bring Out the Best in Every Bottle with These Tips

Nearly all wines will taste better if effort is made to serve them properly. Whether you are uncorking a bottle of red or white wine, there are a few tricks to keep in mind to ensure you are bringing out each wine’s full potential. Follow these simple hacks and impress your guests.

 

Temperature Matters

Prep for a party by ensuring your wine is brought to the proper serving temperature. If you do not own a wine cellar or wine refrigerator, this may require placing your wine inside the fridge for about an hour to allow the wine to cool. If you are bringing your wine to a party, you can keep it cool during travel by using a bottle chilling wrap. You will also want to have a thermometer on hand to check the temperature of the bottle.

Here is a quick reference guide showing the proper serving temperature for each wine type.

Here is a quick reference guide showing the proper serving temperature for each wine type.

Serving Temperatures of Wine
Sparkling Whites
45-48◦F
Light Whites
45-50◦F
Full-Bodied Whites
50-55◦F
Light Reds
55-60◦F
Full-Bodied Reds
60-65◦F 
 


If you have forgotten to chill wine ahead of time, there are a few less conventional ways to bring the temperature down. Add a few frozen grapes to each wine glass. The grapes will chill the wine without diluting it like an ice cube. Similar results can be achieved using stainless ice cubes or spheres more commonly used to chill whiskey and other spirits. You can also fill an ice bucket with ice and about an 1/8 cup of salt. Place the wine in the center of the bucket and it will be ready to enjoy in about 5 to 10 minutes.

Aerate!

Using a wine aerator can help to relax the wine and open up its flavors and aromas. In a pinch, it is more convenient than a decanter as a decanter takes much longer to aerate the wine. Some aerators are also designed to remove sediment and have more than one aeration option, such as the Epicureanist Trilux Wine Aerator. Aerators are also compact in size, making them easy to use for travel.

If you are not short on time you can use a decanter to aerate your wine. Start by storing the bottle upright for about 24 hours to allow the sediment inside to settle to the bottom. Uncork the bottle and begin to empty the bottle into a decanter. Stop pouring as soon as you see any sediment reach the neck of the bottle. If the wine is older (over 10-15 years) then decant only for 30 minutes max. For younger wines, decant for about an hour or more.

Experiment with different aeration methods and make notes for the next time you decide to drink that particular type of wine.

A Cork-tastrophe

If you have had the unpleasant experience of having a cork crumble as you are opening a bottle, don’t panic. Place a coffee filter over a decanter or pitcher and simply pour the wine into the vessel. The filter will catch any loose particles. Then simply toss the used filter and serve the wine.

Wine Cocktails?

While wine mixers are not as popular here in the United States, but they are common abroad. This trick is particularly handy if you open a bottle of wine and find it unpalatable. Mix-ins can be seltzer, fruit, soda, and even milk. While it is frowned upon to dilute a premium wine, it is okay to mix a common table wine.



The Right Glass is Important

Pick the appropriate glass based on the type of wine you are serving. Sparkling wine should be served in a flute. White wines belong in a smaller glass. Red wines require a glass shaped like a bowl. Selecting the right glassware adds sophistication to the wine drinking experience and gives guests the impression that you are well versed in wine.

As you prep for your next party, don’t forget those little details that can give your guests a pleasurable wine drinking experience. Cooling your wine of choice to the proper temperature, aerating it, possibly adding a mixer, and selecting the proper glassware are all a part of serving wine. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are ready to pop open a bottle.