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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Serving wine

The way wine is served has an impact on its taste and qualities. Learn how to serve wine correctly to enjoy it at its best
ST701 Editorial Team - April 2, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Serving wine

We talked about how you should store your wine so that it won’t end up tasting like vinegar when you next take a sip. Now, if you’ve taken the trouble to carefully cache your prized collection in a wine cellar or refrigerated cabinet, you probably won’t want to drink it from a mug. Let’s just say that drinking wine is quite different from drinking your favourite coffee or cocoa beverage.

If storing wine is likened to a science that involves temperature measurements and whatnot, then serving wine is an art no less sophisticated. Let’s see how we can go about doing it right.

Glasses
If a wine is good, it ought to taste the same whether you drink it from a mug or a plastic cup, right? Valid logic, but unfortunately unsound, since we’ve ignored a couple of premises.

After being cooped up in a bottle for months or even years, wine needs space and air to “breathe”. Interaction with air facilitates the wine’s release of its full range of aromas and flavours, and results in a beverage that’s more mellow and pleasant on the palate.

Using the right type of glass is important for helping wine breathe well. Glasses should be clear, tulip-shaped, wider at the bowl than at the rim, and with stems so that you can hold the glass without touching the bowl. Holding the bowl warms the wine prematurely and may compromise its taste.

Fill the glass no more than half-full. This allows adequate room for you to swirl the wine around to release its aromas. A good way to do this is to put the glass on the table, hold the stem at the base, then make small, quick circles with the base.

Ideally, glassware ought to be washed by hand, rinsed in clear water, and polished dry with a clean linen cloth. But if you’re opening a budget, 20-dollar bottle, and don’t want to go through all the trouble, don’t sweat it.

Serving temperatures
You may have come across the popular saying that white wines should be served chilled, while red wines ought to be served at room temperature. Do bear in mind that many authors reside in temperate countries, and they are writing in that context. Their room temperature and ours, in tropical Singapore, are quite different.

The ideal serving temperature for red wine is between 10 and 18 deg C. So much for “room temperature”! Different varieties of red wine require different temperatures within this range, but by and large, your wine should do all right if you bring it out slightly chilled and serve it in an air-conditioned room.

For white wines, a couple of hours in the refrigerator would be great, but if you’re in a hurry, chuck the bottle into a bucket filled half with ice and half with water. This will bring the wine down to the desired temperature in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Decanting
This process is helpful if you’re serving wine that’s been kept for many years, as sediment will most likely have gathered at the bottom.

To decant sediment, allow the bottle to stand upright for a few days before opening. Once you’ve done that, open the bottle and pour the wine slowly and steadily into the decanter without excessive motion. Once you see sediment appearing in the bottle neck – stop. You can then rinse out the bottle and pour the wine back in if you want to.

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