Wine etiquette immediately conjures up images of avoiding drunkenness, avoiding dinner etiquette faux pas or wedding etiquette embarrassment.
However, there’s much more to wine etiquette: from the right temperature for serving wine to what type of wine to choose for various foods. All these guidelines make a difference in how enjoyable the wine is at the end of the day.
Begin with the basics of wine and food pairings. People have different tastes, and not everyone agrees with what wine is best for any particular meal. However, some basic frameworks will help you be more successful.
In planning a meal start with a light-coloured wine or champagne for your entree. They don’t sit heavily in the stomach, yet open the pallet. Move on to red wine for steaks or saucy meals and enjoy a port or dessert wine at the end.
Wine and cheese goes together like bread and butter. A good rule of thumb is to serve white wine with soft cheeses and red wine with hard cheese. The red can stand up to the stronger flavors of the hard cheese.
Similarly, pair fish, white meats or delicate recipes with white wines and red wines with hardier meals.
Different types of wine should be served at different temperatures. The flavor of wine changes dramatically depending on when it’s opened and the temperature. Red wine should breathe for an hour before serving at room temperature. White wines should chill for two hours and be opened just prior to serving.
Throughout your dinner remember that it’s the host’s job to refill guests’ glass unless you’ve indicated that they should feel free to help themselves.
Red wines can be decanted. Vintage wines particularly have some sediment in the bottom that decantering keep out of the glass. Additionally the decanter provides a different way to “breathe” the wine. Let it rest in the decanter for an hour for best results.
When you’re ready to pour your wine there are two distinct approaches. Wine with bubbles needs to pour down the side of the glass. This keeps it from fizzing over and also protects the bubbles. Pour flat wines into the center of the glass. In both cases only part fill the glass.
Use the right kind of wine glass. Bowl shaped glasses work best for red wines as they expose the wine to oxygen. This is also true with brandy and cognac. This lets you fully experience the flavour and aroma of the wine. The exact opposite is true with white wines. You’ll find the taste and characteristics shine with thin, tall glasses.
As far as how to hold your wine glass, wine etiquette experts have two distinct thoughts. If you are in a crowded room it is best to hold the glass by the bowl so you decrease the chance of spilling your beverage. If you are not in a crowded room you should hold the wine by the stem so you don’t change its temperature.
There is nothing like a good bottle of wine. Let a wine expert help you choose the right bottles for the occasion.