Decanter's consultant editor Steven Spurrier demonstrates how to serve red and white wines correctly, to enhance their natural qualities.
‘You probably can’t turn a £10 bottle of wine into a £30 bottle of wine just by serving it beautifully, but you can actually enhance all of its qualities’, Spurrier says.
How to serve wine: white
- White wine should be served at around 10-11℃ or 50-55F. The sweeter the wine, the richer it is, the colder it should be served. If it’s served too warm you lose the freshness, but if it’s served too cold you stun the aromas.
- White wines, minus a few exceptions, don’t need to breathe, so just pull the cork and pour it into a glass.
- The glass should be quite big. To drink, fill the glass to about a third, but never more than half because you need to be able to aerate the wine.
How to serve wine: red
- Young fruity wines, such as Beaujolais or a young Burgundy or a Zinfandel from California, need to be served relatively cool, at around 15℃.
- Classic reds, such as Bordeaux, Romanee and Brunello should be served at around 18℃
- Most reds are served too warm, the bottle should feel cool to the touch. If it’s too warm in a restaurant, ask for an ice bucket.
- Most red wines benefit from breathing, so draw the cork and the wine wine will aerate itself. Draw it about half an hour before serving.
- Important wines will benefit greatly from decanting. This gives the wine more aeration and it will clear the sediment in older wines. In this case the bottle should be stood upright about 12 hours before serving to allow the sediment to sink to the bottom.
- Decant the wine with a flashlight below the wine so you can see where the sediment starts coming into the wine.
- Pour around a third of a glass, the same as with the whites, but no more than half a glass.