Buying a decent bottle is key, but improper serving and storage techniques can turn that ripper Bordeaux into money down the drain. For an optimal tasting experience, heed these Top 6 tips.
Serving a wine too warm will accentuate the alcohol and the oak. Serving it too cold will dull it down to the point that you aren’t getting the minerality and the mouth feel—which is what you are paying for in a good bottle. A good rule of thumb is the 15-minute waiting rule. If you’re serving white wine, take it out of the fridge, open it and put it on the table 15 minutes before you drink it. For red wine, do the opposite, open it and put it in fridge for 15 minutes. Depending on the specific varietal, the ‘optimal’ drinking temperature for most reds is between 14°C to 16°C and whites is 12°C to 14°C (cellar temperature), although some whites show well at 8°C to and reds up to 18°C.
If you want to get serious about drinking your favourite drop at the ‘optimal’ temperature then investing is a good quality dual zone wine fridge would be a good idea.
Nothing looks prettier than an elegant red in an equally elegant glass, but there is a rationale beyond the aesthetics. Choose a wineglass with a relatively generous circumference. This gives the wine more surface area to come in contact with oxygen and allows the wine to breathe. The same principle applies to champagne flutes, which have gotten wider as the quality of sparkling wines has improved. Today, people are using white-wine glasses to serve sparkling whites or rosés.
Do you need a parade of different glasses for different wines? Not really. For everyday drinking an all-purpose Riedel glass with a large, round bowl is just fine.
Think of dishwashing as a chore reserved for the end of the evening? Think again. If you take a glass directly out of the cupboard and use it straight away without thoroughly washing it, you can ruin the wine. Especially if your glasses are stored in an antique cabinet, or if they’ve been sitting in the cabinet a long time. All cabinets, antique or not, are finished with sealants. The result is that you end up smelling and tasting the cabinet, not the wine. Detergent and chlorinated water aren’t the enemies. It may sound counterintuitive, but you want to wash and rinse each glass thoroughly until it smells like chlorinated water. Then pour the wine into the newly cleaned glass—it will smell like fermented grape juice, fresh and pure.”
Roughly 90 percent of all wine is consumed within one week of purchase, but how and where you store those bottles prior to consumption makes a difference.
Why? Because wine is happiest in cave-like conditions, whereas the kitchen or living rooms are often the hottest rooms in the house. Unless you are passionate enough to have a climate-controlled wine fridge that’s set at 14°C with 70 percent humidity, your best bet is probably under the stairs or in a dining room cupboard, somewhere that is consistently cool. Think about the orientation of your home, too, and where the sun hits it. The southeast corner is most likely the coolest spot in the house. Lay bottles on their side for the best aging potential. You can spend thousands on fancy wood racks, but Ikea also makes a very affordable option.”
Are you buying wine by the case? Keep in mind that if you buy 12 bottles of the same wine, you will still have 12 different tasting experiences. Changes in the weather—particularly barometric pressure—can cause as much as a 50to 80 percent swing in the flavour profile, meaning some days the wine will taste better than others, maybe more open and grapier.
Conversely, a change in air pressure due to an incoming storm will compress the wine and lock it up so that the fruit is not forward. It’s almost as if the wine gets dumbed down—way down. So, if you’re planning to open a particularly special bottle and there’s a storm moving in, my advice is to postpone drinking it until after the first precipitation arrives.”
Not every wine you buy needs to be “vin de garde” (meaning one that demands time to reach its peak). Don’t get caught up in the idea that you must chase ‘great’ vintages to get excellent quality. With today’s advances in viticulture and oenology, you have fresher wines, pure and fruit focused. Wines today are far more complex and approachable in their youth, and you can get an impeccably made, delicious wine for as little as fifteen dollars. Despite bad weather, you don’t get the variations in vintages that we once did.