When the moment comes to open and enjoy your wine, you want to do it the right way and allow them to shine.
How to serve wine
While some wine should be consumed relatively young, others need to be kept for a few years before being enjoyed when they have reached perfect maturity. The potential of a wine to improve with age depends on the grape variety, the vinification method and the vintage. However the best way to find when a wine has reached its peak remain to open a bottle from time to time and taste it.
You should select your wines according to circomstances. If wine is desired for a humble meal or a barbecue, it can be a simple, modest bottle. But it is needless to say that a more refined cuisine is always enhanced if it is accompanied by high quality wine.
The perfect order
In what order should you serve wine? A “blanc de blancs” champagne is always a great choice as an aperitif but a crisp white wine which can also go with the first course is a perfect option too. In order to serve wine that will not clash with the preceeding one you should serve young red wine before an older wine, red Bordeaux before Burgundy.
Red generally go less well with cheese than do white wines with the exception of semi-soft cheese like Camembert or Brie as well pressed uncooked cheese like Cantal, Gouda or Mimolette. For those you can reserve some aged Bordeaux. Roquefort will pair very well with a Sauternes and goat cheese will match perfectly with a dry white Burgundy such as Chablis.
The process to open a still bottle of wine is always the same: cut the foil wrapper on the neck to ensure the wine will not come in contact with the foil. You should remove all the foil only if the wine has to be decanted in order to give a better view of the wine. You can then wipe the neck and top with a clean white cloth.
Drive the worm of the corkscrew through the center of the closure and extract the closure in a single smooth movement. If the closure is broken, hold the corkscrew at a slight angle and turn it carefully in the remaining closure. You can also try to push the closure into the bottle and decant the wine into a clean bottle or carafe.
The secret to open a sparkling wine consists of holding the bottle at a slight angle and keeping the cork closure well supported with one hand while turning the bottle with the other one.
You should always taste the wine before decanting or serving to detect any possible defect. The wine may be musty, maderized (caramelized or nutty charater due to oxidation and heat), flat (like of acidity) or corked.
Most wine can be served directly from the bottle but some will benefit from being decanted. Decanting a young red wine for one or several hours will allow it to soften and reveal its aromas. You should choose a decanter with a broad base to allow for a maximum of aeration.
To decant a mature red wine is a more delicate operation that should be done just before serving. You should select a decanter that exposes only a small surface of the wines to the air. The wine should be poured very slowly but steadily. A light source such as a candle or flashlight should be positioned under the neck of the bottle to show when the first sediment comes to the top. Stop pouring as soon as the sediment reaches the neck.
White wines should not be decanted but it could be justified to do so for young Loire wines, white Graves, Alsace vendanges tardives or white oak-aged Riojas from spain.
The quality of the glass contributes greatly to the tasting pleasure. For champagne and other sparkling wine, the flute is the best choice. Select smaller wineglasses for white wine and larger glasses for red wine. The glass should be big enough to hold enough wine without being more than a quarter or one-third full.
Avoid large bowl shaped glass for mature wine as they can dissipate their precious aroma and accelerate warming. All glasses should be washed without detergent and polished with a clean cotton or linen cloth. Each glass should be filled to one-third of capacity throughout the meal.