How To Serve Wine – The Basics

You’ve read through all the wine cooler reviews and have selected the perfect model for you and you’ve found the perfect place to do it. Now all you need to know is how to properly serve the wine that is now secure in your cooler and chilled to the ideal temperature. While that might seem like an easy proposition, it’s not as easy as you think. There’s more to serving wine than simply popping a cork and pouring it into a wine glass. How you serve it is as important as the wine selection itself and how it’s been stored.

Temperature, the quality of the glassware and even how you decant the wine can have a significant impact on the wine’s overall flavor and texture. And that is why I have decided to write this guide for you today. To show you how to properly serve your wine so that you get the most enjoyment from it. Follow these steps and you’ll never be faced with a wine that is underwhelming or disappointing ever again.

Temperature

One of the first things you need to consider is the temperature of the wine. Far too often people pay little attention to the temperature at which they serve their wine. I have been to far too many parties where people have served white wines that were too cold and red wines that were served too warm. While the temperature at which a wine is served can be impacted by an individual’s personal tastes, there are ideal temperatures for each different type of wine. I have listed some of the most common wines and their ideal temperatures so you can get a good grasp on the ideal temperature at which to serve your wine.

Rosés, Dry Light White Wines, Dessert Wines and Sparkling Wines-The ideal temperature for these wines is between 40 and 50 degrees. This temperature will not only preserve the fine bubbles in these wines but will also allow it to retain its light, fruity flavor.

Chardonnay and other Full-bodied White Wines and Beaujolais-The ideal temperature for full-bodied white wines and fruity red wines is between 50 and 60 degrees. This temperature will allow the complexity of these wines to shine through.

Full-bodied Red Wines Such as Cabernet Sauvignon And Most Port Wines-Ideal temperatures for these “heavier” wines is between 60 and 65 degrees. Serving them at this temperature downplays the acerbic aspects of these wines while enhancing their lissome aspects.

Choose the best wine cooler you can and chill your wine to the proper temperature. It makes a huge difference.

Glass Ware

The shape and composition of your wine glass can have a drastic effect on the taste of your wine. Different types of wines should be served in glasses that were designed for them. You should also choose crystal over regular glass, but if you don’t have a choice then at least use glass that is clear and isn’t colored.

Following these steps will help you serve a better tasting wine each and every time. For more advanced serving suggestions, then please read our advanced guide on serving wine.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Rose Wines

If your best wine cooler is hungry for some other types of wines other than red or white, then you might want to try stocking it with some rose wines. Rose wines come in a variety of different shades of pink, from a soft hue all the way to a shocking pink. In Spain it’s called Rosado and in Italy its called Rosato. All names for what we call in the United States rose wine.

If you are thinking about stocking up on some rose wines, then allow this article to be your guide. I am not only going to tell you what gives rose wine its pink hue, but I am also going to explore their taste profile and suggest to you the best times to enjoy this sensational wine. Just bear with me and you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about this variety of wine.

Why is Rose Wine Pink?

Traditionally, rose wines derived their color from the tannin compounds released into the wine from the wine being in contact with the grape skins during the manufacturing process. The longer the grape skins were allowed to remain in contact with the rest of the wine, the deeper the color. Leaving these skins in contact with the wine for a short period produces a rose wine, while leaving it in contact with the wine for a longer period will result in a red wine.

However, nowadays it seems like more vintners are making rose wine by mixing together red and white wine grapes. This is particularly true in the sparkling rose wine category, but is also done in other types as well.

Rose Wine Taste Profile

Rose wines tend to be much like their red wine cousins, except they have more of a subtle flavor and texture. When you drink a rose wine you can expect a wine with a fruity flavor that is oftentimes underpinned by subtle notes of citrus.

The Best Time For Rose Wine

Rose wine is a versatile wine that goes equally well with red meat as it does seafood. It’s also the perfect wine for more casual dishes such as hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad. And if you’re looking for a great wine to go with your chips and dip, then you can hardly go wrong with a great rose wine.

Since it is so subtle, light and refreshing it is often a great wine for the summer months. Particularly if you are spending a lot of time outdoors. Just be sure to check wine cooler reviews and buy a good cooler so you can chill that rose wine down until it’s nice and cold.

And that my friends, is everything you need to know about this type of wine. While it might not seem as glamorous as white or red wines, I assure you that it has just as much class as both of these types of wine. Give it a try and I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ordering Wine On A Date – Part Two

This is the second part of my series on How To Order Wine on a Date. In the first part, I told you how to prepare your wine selection during the reservation process and how to order wine depending on what your date prefers and your food choices. Now I am going to give you a few more tips on ordering wine during a date. Tips that will make you look like a seasoned wine professional.

As I said in my last article, the majority of the articles I write are wine cooler reviews. However, I do have plenty of experience order wine in a restaurant and have found the following tips to be really helpful in navigating the whole experience.

Determining What To Spend

You don’t want to look like a cheap skate ordering wine, but you certainly don’t want to break the bank ordering it either. How do you resolve this dilemma? Just spend what you are comfortable spending. Just because a wine has a high price doesn’t mean it’s the best wine. Likewise, just because a wine is priced lower doesn’t mean that it’s garbage. There are a lot of good wines that are moderately priced, trust me.

If price can’t help you choose a quality wine then what will? This is the part where you can enlist the help of the server. Once you have narrowed down your wine choices to just three selections (based on your date’s preference, your price point and your meal selection), then tell your server that you are considering these three different wines and ask them for a recommendation. Your server will then recommend the best choice of these three. Sometimes the server will even surprise you and offer you a wine you never even considered since he/she now knows your price range by the three selections you are considering.

Order By The Bottle

Most of the time you will want to order wine by the bottle. That’s because it is not only cheaper than ordering by the glass, but because a bottle contains the perfect portion of wine for a couple (usually four to five glasses, depending on how it’s poured). However, if you want to match your wine to each individual course, then you might want to order by the glass.

The Dreaded Wine Presentation

Many people don’t know what they are supposed to do when the server begins his or hers ritualistic wine presentation. That’s okay, because it is really simple. This little ritual is done to help you choose a wine that hasn’t gone bad. After all, even if the restaurant has the best wine cooler in the world, sometimes things go wrong and a wine will go bad. This will make more sense as I detail the process.

The first thing the server is going to do is show you the bottle’s label. The purpose of this is so you can make sure you are getting the actual wine you ordered. Look at the label. If it’s what you ordered, then nod and the server will continue. If it isn’t, then let the server know. Hey, servers are human too and can make mistakes like anyone else. Just don’t make a big fuss about it. Tell him or her it’s not what you ordered and they’ll correct the mistake.

The server will then uncork the bottle and hand it to your or occasionally, lay it on the table. This is so you can examine it. Pick it up and look at it. If it’s dry, crumbly, too wet or shriveled, then that’s probably a bad sign.

Next your server will pour you a small glass. Swirl it around a few seconds and smell it. If it has a bad smell to it, then it probably is a bad wine. However, you should still taste it to make sure. Take a little sip. If it’s bad, then tell your server it’s bad and he/she will bring you another bottle. If not, then tell your server it’s fine and enjoy. Now you know how to order wine on a date.

An Introduction To Port Wine

Instead of writing another article about the best wine cooler or about how to decant wine, I have decided to try something different and write about port wine. Port wine is the type of wine that everyone who enjoys wine should know, whether they are a novice or a true aficionado. That’s because it is a wine that will blow guest away, especially if it is stored, chilled and served properly. Let’s take a few moments to learn about this type of wine so you can impress the guests at your next party.

Port wine is a wine fortified with aguardente that is only made in one place in the world and that one place is in the Douro Valley in Portugal. When this wine is manufactured it has to conform to a myriad of different rules and regulations as set forth by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto. This means that it not only must conform to strict quality control guidelines but must also be marked by a seal that reads: Vinho do Porto Garantia. Therefore, it is pretty easy to determine if the wine you just picked up is port or not.

Port wine is generally divided into two categories. There is bottle aged port and barrel aged port. The difference between the two is generally taste, color and viscosity. Barrel aged port tends to have an oak taste, is thicker and is darker in color.

Ruby Port: The lowest quality and least expensive of the port wines is Ruby Port. This type of wine is usually pretty fragile and most be consumed fairly quickly or it will go bad. However, it is fairly inexpensive and is a good wine to serve with cheese or dessert.

Ruby Reserve Port: This is the next port up. It is blended from several different port vintages. It is aged for five years and is less fragile than Ruby Port.

Late Bottled Vintage Port: This is the next best port. It is aged for a minimum of four years and is not a blend of different ports but a port with a specific vintage. This makes it a good mid-range port.

Tawny Ridge: This type of port is one of the best varieties. It’s aged anywhere from 10 to 40 years, and it has a unique fruitiness.

Vintage Port: This is absolutely the best port wine you can buy. It’s aged for 2 years in a barrel and then its transferred to a bottle where it spends the next 20 years. This type of port is only bottled during exceptional years and as a result, it may only be bottled 2 to 3 times a decade.

That is all that you need to know about port. There is only one more thing that I want to say to you before you go out and buy a bottle. Be sure to check wine cooler reviews and pick the best cooler you can because this is a wine that deserves the best storage conditions possible.

Making Your Own Wine

If you’ve always wanted to make your own wine, then you are in luck. That is because I am going to tell you how to get started making your own wine products. While this guide isn’t a comprehensive guide on the art of wine-making—after all, I really don’t have the space to write that—it will serve as a primer to get you started. Hopefully, reading this article will peak your curiosity and get you started down the road to making your own wines.

Before you start however, you are going to need a few items besides your best wine cooler, some bottles and some grapes. You are going to need things such as 2 6 gallon food grade buckets, a siphon hose, a chlorinated sanitizer, something to stir with, a rubber bung, an airlock device, sugar, yeast, a PH balancer, Sulphite, Bentonite, Potasium sorbate, Kieselsol and Chitosan. You can buy all of these things individually from your local home-brew shop or off the Internet, or you can buy them in a complete package. This guide is going to assume that you are using a kit.

Day 1: The next thing you should do is sterilize all of your equipment with your sanitizing solution and rinse it well with fresh water. Take one of your six gallon buckets and make it your primary fermenter. Add the Bentonite to the bucket and add 1 gallon of water. Dissolve completely. Now empty the contents of your juice concentrate bladder. Add 5 more gallons of water to the bucket. Make sure the temperature of the water is around 75 degrees, but no hotter. Stir the mixture well and add the yeast. Don’t stir the mixture anymore after adding the yeast, however. Cap the bucket and place it in a dark, cool location such as your closet. Don’t touch the bucket for a minimum of four days.

Day 5:  Check the mixture. It should be nice and foamy, an indicator that the yeast is doing its job. If it isn’t doing this, then you probably didn’t sterilize the equipment properly and will have to start all over. If it’s bubbly, then cap it up and place it in your closet for another 9 days.

Day 14: Sanitize your secondary bucket and siphon the wine mixture into this bucket. Now it’s time to mix in the rest of the ingredients in order and stirring after adding each component. Start off with the Sulphite and then add the  Potassium Sorbate, Kieselsol and Chitosan. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Now sanitize the airlock and place it on your container. Place it your closet for 2 more weeks.

Day 28: Your wine is now done and ready to be bottled. After you have bottled it, place it in your wine cooler and chill it down. If you don’t have a cooler, then check wine cooler reviews and buy a good one. Congratulations on making your first batch of wine!

Types Of Dessert Wines

Today, I am going to explain to you what dessert wines are and the types that are available. Once you read this guide you will have all the information you need to not only purchase one of these wines but also to enjoy it. Dessert wines have always been a special pleasure for me and I know that once you try them out, they will be for you as well.

Before I begin this guide however, I want to give you one tip. Make sure that you have a good wine cooler before you purchase a dessert wine. That’s because these wines need to be served at their ideal temperature to taste their best. If you don’t own a really good cooler, then be sure to check out wine cooler reviews and select one that will suit your purpose. Now that’s been said, it’s time to get on with our guide.

Dessert wines can be broken down into 5 categories which include: Sparkling, Fortified, Sweet Red, Lightly Sweet and Richly Sweet. Each of these have their own unique characteristics. Let’s examine each wine individually.

Sparkling Dessert Wine

This is a very sweet wine but you might not be able to tell because its bubbles and high acidic content seems to cut the sweet taste. Just how sweet or acidic it is can be determined by the label. The less sweet versions (also called dry) have the words Demi-Sec or Semi Secco on the label. Sweet versions have the words Amabile, Doux, Dolce or Moelleux on the label. Of these sweet varieties, Amabile is the least sweet one.

Fortified Dessert Wine

Fortified wine is basically when a grape brandy is added to a wine. These types of wines can be either sweet or dry. Fortified wines have about 20% alcohol content by volume. Port, Sherry and Madeira are some of the wines in this category.

Sweet Red Wine

Finding a good sweet red wine is difficult these days because so many manufacturers are only making this wine in the cheaper varieties. However, there are still a few good ones left out there. These include Lambrusco, Brachetto d’Acqui, Freisa and Recioto della Valpolicella.

Lightly Sweet Wine

Lightly sweet wines are the ultimate dessert wine for fruit-based desserts or vanilla flavored desserts. That’s because they have a sweet, fruity or flowery taste to them. The best wines in this category usually come from Germany, although there are plenty of good American and French brands out there. Some of the lightly sweet wines on the market today include Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Chenin Blanc. These wines are usually best served cold, so be sure you have them in your best wine cooler at least 24 hours before being served.

Richly Sweet Dessert Wine

This type of wine usually uses the best grapes, aged over 50 years and is unfortified. As the name suggests, this wine is very rich and sweet. Some of the more common brands on the market include Sauternes, Tokaji, Vin Santo and Strohwein.

Basic Types Of Red Wine

My last article on the basics of white wine was received so enthusiastically, I’ve decided I am going to cover the basic types of  red wines. As in the previous article, please remember that this guide is intended as a primer for those of you who have little to no experience with wines and it isn’t necessarily intended for those who are well versed in wine. In this guide, I am not only going to show you the different types of red wine, but I am also going to show you what flavor profiles you can expect from each variety and what food pairs best with them.

A word of caution before we begin, however. While red wine isn’t as sensitive to temperature changes as white wines—in fact some are best served warm—it is still important to buy the best wine cooler available to store your wine. Especially if you are buying quite a few different varieties.

Shiraz: This type of wine is one that is usually crafted in Europe, but there are also some great Australian and American brands of this wine. Shiraz is a spicy full body red that has a blackcurrant overtone and may has some peppery secondary notes. It is a wine that is best served with roasted meats and wild game.

Merlot: This red wine is one that is recognized by just about everyone; both wine novices and seasoned pros. It often displays plum or black cherry notes and has less of a tannin flavor than its cousin,  Cabernet Sauvignon. Because of the versatility of this wine, it can be paired with just about any type of food and it will complement it.

Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine has a full body taste that is sort of acidic. Because of the high tannin level of this wine, it is best to keep it stored at around 52 degrees so that it’s rich flavor profile isn’t altered too much. That is why you should check wine cooler reviews to find a cooler that can operate in this temperature range. A good Cabernet Sauvignon can be served with any type of red meat.

Pinot noir: Pinot noir can be describes as the exact opposite of Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of a rich, viscous body it has a delicate and fresh tasting body. It often has a fruity flavor that is underpinned by earthy tones. It is best served with lamb, chicken, sushi and salmon.

Sangiovese: This is a medium body wine that is produced in Italy and California. It often has berry or plum undertones. Sangiovese is best served with Mediterranean and Italian dishes.

Barbera: This red wine has much of the same characteristics as Merlot, but isn’t as popular. It has a silky texture that has a good acid level and has black cherry notes to it. Barbera is a red wine that is best served with dishes that contain a tomato-based sauce, but its versatility really allows it to be served with just about any dish.

How To Buy A Wine Cooler – Part One

If you are looking to buy a new wine cooler but don’t know exactly what features you need, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, I am going to tell you the models and the features that are available out there and how to determine if a particular wine cooler is right for you. If you read through this two-part guide—and then check out some wine cooler reviews—then you can rest assured that you will find the ideal unit for all of your wine storage needs.

Wine Coolers Vs. Wine Cellar

The first thing you need to realize is that there is a difference between a wine cooler and a wine cellar. A wine cooler is intended to store your wine for short periods of time. These units cool your wine down to serving temperature—which is between 40 and 65 degrees—and holds it there until it is ready to be served. Wine should never be kept in a wine cooler longer than a year. If you need a long-term storage solution, then you are better off purchasing a wine cellar.

Best Wine Cooler Features

A good wine cooler needs to have a number of features to ensure that it keeps your wine in good serving condition. These features will give you a good idea of the difference between a really good cooler and a mediocre one.

Temperature Range

When searching for a wine cooler, you need to find one that has the greatest temperature variability as possible. The better coolers have a wide temperature range of about 25 degrees from the lowest setting to the highest setting. Lesser models often feature a very narrow temperature variability of about 10 degrees.

Why is it important to choose a cooler with a wide range? That’s because different wines are the best at different temperatures. For instance, sparkling wines are usually served at 40 to 50 degrees; while full-bodied red wines are served at a temperature between 60 and 65 degrees. Therefore, it is very important to find a unit with a wide temperature range, particularly if you enjoy a number of different wines.

Price Per Bottle

Another thing you need to consider when purchasing a wine cooler is the price versus the capacity of the cooler. Instead of trying to just find the lowest priced model, try this little tip instead. Take the total price of the unit and divide it by the number of bottles it holds. This gives you the price-per-bottle price that can be compared to other unit’s price-per-bottle price. Generally, you’ll want to purchase the unit with the lowest price-per-bottle price. Of course, this can be adjusted by your needs. For example, a 46 bottle cooler might have a lower price-per-bottle price, but you might only need to store 20-24 bottles. In this case, it would make more sense to purchase the cooler that fits your storage needs.

The above features are the basics of what you need to look for in a wine cooler. To see some of the other features you need to take into consideration, then please check out Part Two of this guide.

How To Serve Wine – Continued

In my article, “How To Serve Wine – The Basics”, I gave you the first few stages of serving wine. I told you how to check wine cooler reviews to pick the best cooler, the optimal temperature to serve various types of wine and even told you how to choose glass ware. All of the things that I consider to be the basics of wine serving. Today, I am going to give you the second part of this series and give you the advanced techniques you need to know to serve wine. Follow these steps and you will not only notice that your wines have that special “pop” but that you and your guests are happier with the wines served.

Pop The Cork

There are a variety of different ways for uncorking a bottle of wine. For some of the more advanced techniques of uncorking please refer to my guide on How To Open A Bottle Of Wine for a full explanation.

The simplest technique for uncorking is to remove the foil from your bottle with a Sommelier Knife and then removing the cork with a standard bottle corkscrew. While you are uncorking the bottle you should be careful not to break the cork into pieces and remove it as one whole piece.

Decant The Wine

Almost every red wine out there tastes better when it is decanted. The time-tested method is to pour the wine into a decanter and allow it exposure to oxygen for about 30 minutes. Some people choose to use an aerator because it is quicker. Which ever method you choose however, you should be careful not to let the wine sit too long. For an advanced lesson on proper decanting, please see my article How To Decant Wine.

Pour The Wine

Proper wine pouring can take some practice, but once you have got the hang of it, then it becomes fairly easy. Since most bottles of wine typically contain about 25 ounces of wine, some people like to pour 5 ounce glasses. That way, you get 5 glasses of evenly poured wine from the bottle. I on the other hand like to pour 3 ounces of wine into a glass at a time. The method that you choose doesn’t really matter, just be sure to be consistent and for goodness sake don’t spill any of the wine.

And that is all there is to serving a perfect bottle of wine. Before I go however, I would like to make one more addition to this article. I want to remind you that a wine served cold will get warmer in the glass, while a wine served warm will only get warmer in the glass. Therefore, it is important to not only buy the best wine cooler, but to chill the wine a little below target temperature. That way, when the wine warms it will reach the ideal serving temperature for the wine.

Serving Wine At A Party

I have been asked many times what’s the proper way to serve wine at a party, so I’ve decided to go ahead and write a guide on the subject. In this guide, you will not only find out what wines you need to serve, but also what order to serve them. You’ll also find out how much wine to buy and how to select the wine varieties. So, If you are ready to get this party started, then let’s start off with the basics.

The Basics

Before you start, you’ll want to gather a few things together. One, you want to make sure that you have the best wine cooler available because wines need to be chilled down to their optimal drinking temperature before they are served. Two, you will want to make sure that you have a traditional corkscrew. Once you have those items you can decide on what will be on your wine list for the party.

White wines are usually served before white wines and dry wines are served before sweet wines. However, the real determining factor of what you will serve will really depend on the type of foods that you are serving. You want to make sure that you pair the correct wine with your meals.

You can either select your wine first and then decide which meal goes with it, or you can do it in reverse order and decide on the food and then determine what wine to serve with that food. It really all depends on your personal preference.

Sequencing Your Wines

Now that you’ve decided on the food and the wine that you are going to serve, it’s now important that you serve the wine in the proper order. Below are some suggestions that will determine the order of wine service:

  • Serve White Before Red Wines
  • Serve Dry Wines Before Sweet Ones
  • Serve Light Wines Before Heavy Wines
  • Serve Lower Quality Wines Before You Serve The Good Stuff

Determining How Much Wine To Purchase

You should purchase 1 bottle of wine for each of your guests. If you are serving 1 type of wine and have 4 guests, then you should purchase at least 4 bottles of wine. On the other hand, if you have multiple varieties of wines, then you can alter the ratio just a little bit. For example, if you have 4 guest and 3 different types of wine, then purchase 1 bottle of each kind for a total of 3 bottles. Make sure you have a cooler big enough to store the wine. If you don’t have an adequate cooler, then you can check wine cooler reviews and buy one that suits your needs.

Choosing Wine

You should select the wine according to your guest’s preferences. Some people don’t like red wines and other people are put off by white wines. However, if you don’t know your guests preferences, then be sure to stock both white and red wines, just to be safe.

Follow all of the above guidelines and you can be pretty sure that you’ll host a wine party that blows everyone away.