If you are serving wine to guests in your home many of the restaurant suggestions, stated in two previous articles, “Wine Etiquette in a Restaurant” and “Wine Tasting Room Etiquette”, will apply.
In all wine tasting and drinking instances, the wine glass should be held by the stem, not the bowl. The heat of your hand will adjust the taste of the wine. The serving order will stay the same whether you are in a restaurant or a home. Wine is poured for women first, followed by older gentlemen and the host will be poured for last. As in a previous article on tasting rooms, begin serving light white wines to open an evening and a meal.
Since you are serving in your own home, the menu is up to you. This can be a daunting task. There are many suggestions for menu’s online as well as wine pairing. When deciding to sample a few bottles of wine, be sure to select foods that will complement the wines such as cheese and fruit. Swiss, Brie and Gouda go excellently well with white wine. You’ll want to move next to the red wines. Reds have a heavier body than whites. Select a red that goes well with your main dish. If you are having a simple party rather than a sit-down meal, have cheeses that will bring out the flavor of the wine. Finish off the evening with a sweet dessert wine. Port is a wonderful choice. Make sure you choose a dessert that will compliment it.
When opening your evening and serving the white wine, you want to make sure the temperature is correct. Whites and rose’s are best when they are served slightly chilled, at 50 degrees. Regardless of white or red, it is better to err on the side of coolness. Slightly cool rather than slightly warm is much more desirable.
Always check your cork upon opening. Many people will dump wine that has a cork which is moldy on the top end. This, in fact, has no effect on the wine. What it really means is that the bottle of wine was aged in the producer’s cellar which was most likely damp. The mold resulted from this proper storage and is actually a good thing.
Swirling the wine in your glass allows the aroma to be released. Although many sommeliers insist that there is usually no harm in a moldy cork, upon swirling and getting a good sniff, you’ll want to make sure there is no “moldy” smell. The aromas should be pleasing to the nose. If the smell is what many call a “wet basement” or “dirty socks” odor, the wine is said to be “corked”. This means that the wine has been tainted by a moldy cork. Cork taint can affect all wines and is irrespective of quality level or price. Most often this tainting is due to TCA. This reduces the inherent aromas of the wine and, at high levels, can make a wine completely undrinkable. This undrinkability, however, does not make the wine harmful when consumed.
When serving red wine in your home, consider decanting. There are two reasons to decant a bottle of wine. First, decanting will soften the tannins of a young red wine. Because it’s not always practical to open a bottle of wine and let it “breathe” for two hours, decanting (pouring the wine into a glass decanter) reduces this breathing time. Another reason to decant is it will separate the wine from the sediment. This sediment would be readily apparent in a 20 year old port or an older red wine.
Wine etiquette can seem outdated and at times unnecessary. Following proper wine etiquette, however, will enhance the overall wine drinking experience. All the subtleties of wine sipping, drinking and comsumption are intended to slow the experience. Like enjoying a rich dark chocolate, savoring your meal and the wine served, will help to ensure you and your guests enjoy their evening.
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