You’re hosting a get-together or event, where wine is sure to be served. You want to make sure you are confident in both the wine you offer and the way you serve it. You start to worry if there is etiquette or procedure you need to know. In short, is there a proper way to drink wine?
The answer is yes, and no. While there are no hard and fast rules about sipping on a glass of wine, experts tell us there are steps you can take to ensure your experience is the best it can possibly be.
We’ve put together a list of proper way to drink wine:
1. Have a Variety of Wine on Hand
If you are hosting an event yourself, even a small backyard gathering, you will likely want to be able to offer a variety of drinks, including a range of red wines, white wines, and rosé wines. Your guests will appreciate having options, given that most people tend to stick to their preferred drinks.
2. Chill Wine Ahead of Time
In order to drink wine properly, you need to chill it ahead of time. As you are planning, remember to chill the wines that will benefit from cooler temperatures. Most white wines and rosés are best served after up to 40 minutes in the refrigerator.
If you cool these wines for too long, they can lose some of their more subtle flavours. Be sure to check the label, however, as a Chardonnay will be best at a slightly warmer temperature than other whites. You likely only need to chill a Chardonnay for approximately 30 minutes.
3. Organize Your Supplies
Of course, in order to serve wine to your guests, you will need plenty of wine glasses on hand. Beyond making sure your glassware is clean, you may want to have a variety of stemmed and stemless glasses, in case your guests have a preference.
You will also want to have a handful of napkins on hand for serving, for your comfort in handling colder bottles, and to help catch any drips.
4. Open Ahead of Time
Some wines, particularly young red wines, taste better when they’ve had the chance to aerate, or breathe. When wine is exposed to air, its tannins soften and bolder fruit tastes are released. While there is some debate about whether or not decanting is necessary to achieve this effect, your guests will likely appreciate that you’ve opened red wine two to three hours ahead of time.
5. Practise Your Pour
When it comes to pouring wine without drips, you likely only need a few tips and a bit of practise. The last thing you want to do, if your guest holds out a glass to be topped-up with red wine, is create drips that could fall on their clothing. Have a napkin ready and pour approximately 5-6 ounces.
As you stop pouring, rotate the bottom of the bottle away from you. The action should be smooth and deliberate, relatively quick. Practise ahead of time to give yourself more confidence.
6. Engage Your Sense of Smell
One of the best ways to fully experience wine is to engage your senses with intention. After you’ve appreciated the colour and texture of the wine, go ahead and see what smells you can detect. Do you smell flowers or spice? Maybe berries or wood?
The aromatics of a wine strongly influence its flavour. Red wines often start with berry smells such as blackberry or raspberry, while white wines often lean toward citrus aromas.
7. Enjoy the Taste and Finish
Wine makers ultimately try to find a balance between acidity and sweetness. Naturally, every wine will have its own balance and flavour. Allow your first sip to move around and over your tongue, feeling for its weight in your mouth.
Does it feel like skim milk or whole milk? How does it finish? Does the flavour linger in your mouth or drop off? The point of noticing these variables is only to figure out what you enjoy most, so you can seek it out in the future.
8. Drink or Discard
Finally, when it comes to serving and enjoying wine, you need to know when to discard bottles that have been opened, but not fully consumed. While there are some obvious signs that a wine needs to go—discolouration, a bitter taste or funky smell—there are some other general guidelines. A sparkling wine, for example, should be kept no more than one or two days after opening. A white or rosé can be good anywhere from three to five days, whereas a red should be okay for three to six days.
Wine is a traditional staple of social gatherings. Whether you prefer to sip on something sweet and sparkly or rich and robust, it is helpful to know what you like and to have a few ideas on the proper way to drink wine. If you are hosting an event or get-together, you will be more confident serving wine if you have the right supplies on hand, some knowledge on how to serve and a good understanding of why you enjoy the wines yourself.