Wine Serving Tips

In what sort of glass should I be serving wine?

Tulip-shaped or inward-curving glasses allow you to swirl, tilt and get at the bouquet effectively, improving your ability to appreciate the wine. In order to do this, fill your glass to no more than one-third full. The extent to which a wine releases its aromas depends on the shape of the glass. Thinner glass also allows more oxygen to enter the mouth opening up the wines flavour.

What serving temperature should I serve wine?


Serving wine at the right temperature makes all the difference. It does depend on personal preference but, as a general rule, always serve wines on the cool side as they will warm up in your hands, whatever the weather.

Serving White Wines

Chilled wines are refreshing. Chilling does mask flavour, so the finer the wine, the less it will need chilling. Remember, ice with water in an ice bucket chills more efficiently than just ice alone.

Refrigeration Serving
Temperature oC
Champagne & Sparkling Wines 4 hours 5-10
Light Sweet Whites 4 hours 5-10
Dry Light Aromatic Whites 2 hours 10-12
Medium-bodied Dry Whites 1.5 hours 10-12
Full-bodied Sweet Whites 1.5 hours 10-12
Full-bodied Dry Whites 1 hours 12-16

Serving Red Wines

The tannin level in a wine dictates the temperature at which it should be served. The greater the  tannic in a wine, the warmer you it should be drunk.  Red wines that are low in tannin may be chilled like a full-bodied white wine. If a red wine is served too warm, it will become soupy and all you will be able to taste and smell will be the alcohol. As with all wine, serve cooler rather than warmer.

Refrigeration Serving
Temperature oC
Light Reds 1 hour 12-16
Medium-bodied Reds 14-17
Full-bodied Reds 15-18

The expression room temperature  came from the days before the introduction of central heating when dining rooms were usually 5 to 6 degrees cooler than they are today always err towards coolness.

In what order should I serve wines?

Dry before sweet, white before red, light before heavy, lesser before finer, young before old. This gives your taste buds a chance to get used to the increasing strength or complexity.

When should I decant a wine?

Decanting is usually used as a means of removing sediment from a mature wine. It can also be very effective in softening a firm, young red wine. The younger and tougher the wine, the earlier you should decant. It is the pouring action, bringing the wine into contact with the air, that softens the wines. For mature wines, decant later rather than sooner. Exposure to air accelerates the wine’s development. You can always swirl it around in your glass to bring it out.

Should I leave the wine to breathe?

Simply drawing the cork and leaving the bottle to stand for an hour or two before drinking it  ‘does virtually nothing towards aerating the wine. Wine once poured in the glass will start to aerate. A good tip is to decant young and rustic wines into a plain jug.

How long can you keep a wine once it is opened?

Wine evolves once the bottle is opened and has a finite lifespan. It is the gradual exposure to oxygen that ages a wine. Once you open the wine, you are accelerating this procedure. The higher the alcohol, the more robust the wine. Most half-full bottles of wines and champagnes will oxidise overnight. Use a vacuvin to remove the air from the bottle. Fortified wines have been stabilised with the addition of spirit, so there is room for a little more leeway.

Vintage  Port as this is still maturing in the bottle, it will keep for 5 to 7 days;
Tawny Port/Madeira As this has finished its maturation in the barrel, keeps for up to 1 month.
Fino/Manzanilla Sherry These fine, delicate sherries should only be kept for 5-7 days.
Amontillado Sherry Can be kept for not more than a week.
Cream Sherry Can be kept for up to 1 month.

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