January 10, 2014
Championing the Art of Serving Wine
The holidays may be over, but a New Year just means there are plenty of good times to come. Chances are that you’ll be enjoying them with a great bottle of wine or two.
Picture for a moment, a friend’s birthday dinner or a special anniversary; the table’s set, the food smells delicious, and the company is talking a mile a minute. The only thing your celebration is missing is the wine! But how many bottles do you need? When should you open them? What order should you be serving them? And are they at the right temperature to serve? Don’t worry - after reading this, you’ll be serving wine like its second nature!
HOW MANY BOTTLES?
A good rule of thumb is that a bottle of wine will fill five to six glasses and at a party where people are drinking mostly wine, plan on three glasses per person. But there are a few variables to think about. What type of occasion is it? How long will the party last? Will guests be seated for dinner or is it a cocktail party? Your best bet is to keep a few extra bottles on hand so you don’t run out.
HOW TO SERVE?
Unlike at restaurants, if you are having a friendly meal, self-serve is the norm. Just be sure to have a few different bottles within arm’s reach of your guests so they can easily access what they like. If you’re inclined to take a spin around the table to serve your guests their first glass, here are a few tips:
-Always serve ladies first, starting with the eldest of the party. From there, a clockwise formation of the ladies works well and then you can simply continue with the gentlemen and serve yourself last.
-Everyone loves a generous host, but be careful about over pouring. A simple 3-4 oz. pour is a great starter and will help ensure you make it all the way around the table before emptying the bottle.
-Avoid spots on the table cloth by ending each pour with a small twist of the bottle. This will help prevent drips and is the same trick used in restaurants.
-Mix it up by having a few different wines on hand. You’ll expose your guests to new wines and help them discover their favorites. Offering several reds and several whites is a good rule of thumb.
WHAT ORDER? WHAT TEMPERATURE?
Another important aspect to consider is the order of bottles you serve and what temperature to serve them at. Remember that wines will typically warm up with room temperature as well as how your guests hold or handle their glassware. It is easier to start off colder than trying to cool wine after pouring it. Although a wine refrigerator is ideal, you can still achieve optimal serving temperatures with ice buckets and your standard fridge.
-Always start with a sparkling wine -- even before the cocktails. Sparkling wines: Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco, are a great appetizer wines. The bubbles are wonderful on the palate and this style of wine is a people pleaser. It is best served ice cold at approximately 35-45 degrees F. Pop the bottle into the freezer for about 45 minutes beforehand or submerge in an ice bucket that is filled a third of the way with ice and another third with water. The wine should be cold in 15 minutes.
-Next, move to your lighter styles of whites: dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, etc., and then go on to your heavier whites: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, etc. Refrigerator cold is a good standard temperature for your whites at approximately 45-55 degrees F.
-Roses always sit comfortably between transitioning from whites to reds, or you can start with a lighter red style like: Pinot Noir or Grenache. Lighter reds are softer and fruitier than most reds and showcase well at approximately 50-60 degrees F.
-Your next step is a heavier or bold red: Merlot, Syrah, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Start these off at a slightly cool temperature of approximately 60-70 degrees F.
-And just like they sound, dessert wines, like a nice Port of Tokaji, find their happy place at the end of the course. Temperatures will vary depending on style. Ports are great at 65-70 degrees F, while something in the sweet style, like a Tokaji, is better in the 50-55 degrees F range.