Learning how to properly store, serve and pair wine is a skill worth investing in. The tips below will help guide an aspiring wine connoisseur in the basics of wine.
Cool and Dark
In general, wine should be kept out of direct sunlight in a cool place that will never reach temperatures above 70 degrees. Typically, wines are stored in a wine chiller or cooler that retains a temperature a bit warmer than the average refrigerator. If wine gets too cold or the air around it becomes too dry, the cork may dry out causing the wine to breath before it’s ready.
Lay It Down
Most wine connoisseurs recommend keeping wine stored on its side so the wine will always remain in contact with the cork. This is to prevent the cork from drying out causing air to seep in. Some bottles that come with screw caps are fine to store vertically with no potential for damage. There are plenty of wine racks on the market to assist with proper storage and even make for stylish additions to home decor.
The temperature at which wine is served depends on the type of wine it is. Champagnes and sparkling wines should always be served chilled and should be kept in an ice bucket or refrigerator ahead of time. Most white wines are best when served at a maximum of 55 degrees and should also be chilled ahead of time. Red wines are generally best a little above the average cellar temperature. It is recommended to bring red wine out before serving to give it enough time to warm up slightly.
This is another case where the type of wine should be considered. Champagne and sparkling wines should be served in flutes for best results. This type of glass is long and slender allowing bubbles to form and the wine to remain colder. White wine glasses are also more on the slender side and are known to hold a tulip shape. These glasses also allow the wine to remain colder. Red wine glasses are bigger than all others with wide mouths and a larger bowl. The glasses are shaped this way so the red wine can be swirled and allowed to breathe.
Pairing Wine and Food
The classic, contrasting pairing of salty and sweet will certainly please a crowd. Sweeter wines like Riesling and Moscato will work best with a salty pairing like blue cheese olives. This also works well with ports and other dessert wines. A good, salty cheese will do wonders for a sweet, fruity wine.
Red with Red, White with White
The rule usually goes that red wine pairs with red meats and white wine goes with white meats. The idea is that pairing them oppositely will result in the wine changing flavor due to the food. A rich Malbec will go best with a juicy red steak while a crisp Pinot Grigio will pair better with chicken. The rules above should only serve as guide when beginning to learn about wines. Rules are made to broken and often happy accidents will result when straying from the guidelines. Use instinct and personal taste along with these tips to find the perfect technique.
If you would like to learn more about wine basics, consider taking a wine education class from San Diego wine bar, Village Vino.