How To Taste Wines

Wine Tasting Rules & Etiquette

Here are some very important tips in preparation for wine tasting and serving:

First, keep in mind that if you will be tasting whites and reds, always start with the white wines first. Then move to the reds. Second, always start with the drier wines, moving along to the sweeter ones subsequently. In addition, it’s best to start with lighter wines first and work your way up to the heavier bodied wines. The age of the wine is also pertinent: start with the younger wines and move on to the aged wines as you go.

Wines should be served at the appropriate temperature. The following chart will guide you in selecting the most pleasurable tasting temperature for your specific varietal:

Dry, aged red wine
68-74 Degrees °F
Rosés, light reds like Gamay Beaujolais, Grignolio, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and fruity dry wines from Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc), Val de Loire (Chemin Blanc) Soave, Gavi, etc.
55 to 65 Degrees °F
Dry Wines, from Chablis, Erbaluce, and most Italian white wines (Verdicchio), Pinto Grigio
48 to 55 Degrees °F
Champagne, Spumante, Cava
40 to 48 Degrees °F
Alsatian wines, Moscato, Rieslings
35 to 40 Degrees °F

Aged red wines should be opened a few hours before consumption and remain and remain undisturbed in the same position if possible. Big red wines need to be consumed at room temperature for the following reasons:

  1. Because of the high tannin content; the astringent sensation is exasperated at lower temperatures. Young generic reds, low in tannin, are an exception and therefore can be safely appreciated in full by slight chilling at 55 to 65 degrees.
  2. The bouquet given by oak aromas and bottle bouquet aromas is masked when the red wine is chilled.

Instructions on How to Serve Wine

Good wine adds to the pleasure of a meal, and the pleasure is even greater when served properly. Here are some important guidelines for an enjoyable experience:

  1. CARRY WINE CAREFULLY TO THE TABLE. If the bottle is shaken, it may stir up the sediment that is in the bottom of the bottle.
  2. SHOW THE BOTTLE TO THE HOST. This is done to give him a chance to see the size of the bottle, to view the label, making sure this is indeed what he requested.
  3. OPEN THE BOTTLE AT THE TABLE. The ceremony of opening the bottle at the table in the presence of the guests is a pleasant prelude to the drinking of the wine.
  4. USE A LEVER CORK SCREW. This is not absolutely necessary, however, the chances of the cork crumbling is slimmer when using the lever cork screw as opposed to other types of openers.
  5. WRAP A NAPKIN AROUND THE HEAD OF A CHILLED BOTTLE WHEN PULLING THE CORK. Sometimes the neck of a bottle breaks, and the napkin will protect it, and you, if this occurs. In addition, it is distinguished and professional in appearance.
  6. POUR A TASTE FOR THE HOST, AND WAIT FOR HIS OR HER APPROVAL. This is to give the host a chance to determine if the wine is of acceptable quality, and is a mark of good service.
  7. STARTING FROM THE RIGHT, SERVE THE LADIES, THEN MEN, AND POUR THE HOST’S GLASS LAST. The glasses should not be filled, rather, pour until the wine reaches the widest point of the glass, and never more than three-quarters full.


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