How to Serve Wines

A lot has been written regarding the “best” or “right” way to serve wine, which can make it seem quite overwhelming. But don’t panic, a few basic rules will get you 90% of the way there in no time!

Your taste buds are key

The single most important thing that affects what a wine tastes like is what you had in your mouth before drinking it. If you haven’t eaten or drunk anything for sometime, then it’s best to serve wines that are invigorating such as sparkling wine or champagne. If the last thing you tasted was food, then you need to make sure that the wine that you serve next matches the food that you will be tasting. To find out more visit our how to page on partnering food and wine.

Size matters

The key to serving wine is to start light and finish big. So, ideally start with something light and elegant like a Pinot Grigio, and then progress onto more full-bodied whites like Viognier and oaky Chardonnays. For reds, kick off with light and fruity wines, such as a young fruit-driven Rioja or wines that are made from Gamay, before moving onto more full-bodied reds. A Syrah based blend from Southern France or a bold Chilean Cabernet would be ideal.

Make sure that the temperature is right

Getting the temperature right is easy. Simply add whites to the fridge 45 minutes before serving (not too much longer though as it will kill the taste) and for reds, leave them in the kitchen overnight to reach room temperature.

A few tips for serving reds

Most reds will benefit from being opened half an hour or so before serving, in order to allow the wine to open up and the flavours to develop, both on the nose and on the palate. If you have a decanter (if not any measuring jug will do), a quick splash decant will bring alive the wine’s characteristics.

For older wines that may contain sediment, stand the bottle upright for 24 hours to allow this to settle at the bottom. Sediment is often found in aged and minimally filtered reds, such as Claret and Burgundy. Pour these wines carefully and leave a small amount at the bottom of the bottle, as this is the part that will most likely to contain the sediment.