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How to Serve Wine like a Pro

By Alyssa Rapp, the Founder and CEO of Bottlenotes.com, the premier online wine community where wine enthusiasts come to learn about wine, share tasting notes, and buy wine. Alyssa is also the author of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips.

Anyone can serve wine like a professional sommelier. Like any “home improvement,” there are simply a few steps you will need to follow:

I. Serve Wine at the Perfect Temperature
II. Open a Bottle Like a Pro
III. Decant Like a Pro
IV. Serve Like a Pro

Serve Wine at the Perfect Temperature

To simplify the key takeaways, we serve our white wines too cold and red wines too warm in the U.S. Whites should be served between 43 and 52ºF Lighter bodied, younger whites should be colder than fuller bodied, oaked whites. Serving whites colder smoothes the alcoholic edge and makes the drink more pleasant.

Red should be served between 54ºF for fruity Beaujolais to 65ºF for complex Bordeaux

Go by body: medium bodied reds falls in the middle, around 60ºF – Merlot. Serving reds cool but not cold rounds a tannic edge but still allows the full nose to blossom in the glass.

We at The Daily Sip™ have reviewed numerous “quick-cooling” devices that you can explore at www.bottlenotes.com/dailysip. Nonetheless, the easiest way to cool your wines remains an old-fashioned ice bucket/ice bath. To create the optimal chilling experience, fill the ice bucket with ice and a little bit of water. Place the entire bottle in the ice bath. Whites should be properly chilled in 10-15 minutes, while reds only should need five minutes.

Open a Bottle Like a Pro

The reason servers use those funky corkscrews with an “elbow”- a hinge-joint- is because these are ironically the easiest corkscrews to use to open a bottle of wine.

These are the three steps required to open the bottle like a Somm:

1. Open the foil cutter and cut on the first level of the lip – it looks nicer to leave the rest of the foil on the bottle
2. Insert the twisty part of the corkscrew into the center of the cork. Twist it in, but not all the way through the cork because you don’t want any cork bits to fall into your wine.
3. Pull out the cork in a two-part process:
a. Use the 1st level of the lever to push the cork a little bit out
b. Use the 2nd level to get the cork all the way out

Decant Like a Pro:

Decanting wines is the most sure-fire way to get them properly aerated before consumption, thereby maximizing the tasting experience. Decanting old wines has the added bonus of allowing all the sediment to settle in a decanter, thus helping to avoid sediment in the glass. And of course, pouring wine from decanters is an esthetically beautiful at a dinner party.

Quick Tips for Decanting:

1. When you pour wine into a decanter, usually pour it against the side of the decanter to avoid splashing.
2. When you finish pouring a bottle into a decanter, remember to give your wrist a little twist at the end to catch the extra wine that would otherwise drip down the sides of the bottle.
3. When you’re finished using your decanter, be sure to rinse it with scalding hot water and flip it upside down so all the liquid is removed, lest decanters tend to build up mold.

Serving Like a Pro:

My dear friend Robert Hall of Bottega del Vino Crystal says it best: “If the wine matters, so does the glass.” To get the most out of any bottle of wine, you’re best off if you serve it: a) in the top of the line stemware, and b) if you only fill each glass 1/3 full.

Following these two steps will enable you to get the most out of any $20 bottle of wine and allow any of your $220 bottles of wine to “sing.” Over filling a glass hinders proper aeration, while serving in small, cheap stems does the same.

Investing in great stemware like Bottega del Vino is the a sure fire way to maximize the wine-tasting experience, for yourself and any guests, any night of the week.