Get the most out of your wine with these serving tips and tricks.
Getting the correct temperature is just as important as choosing the correct type of wine. When served warm, white wine becomes dull and bland; red wine loses its scent and most of its flavor when chilled.
Household refrigerators are generally set at 40°F, which means that it will take a bottle about 3 hours to chill. Note: Leaving wine in the fridge for a long period of time can cause the cork to stick and the wine to oxidize. Never chill wine in the freezer or store wine in the refrigerator, chill wines on the day you intend to serve them. To chill wine quickly, place the bottle in a bucket of water and ice for about fifteen minutes.
2. High-shouldered, dark green glass bottle, the standard for Bordeaux red wines. This bottle is also generally used around the world for wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Chianti. In clear glass, this bottle is used for Bordeaux white wines in France, and in other countries for Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon wines.
3. Tall, slender bottle called “hock” or Rhein, colored brown in Germany’s Rhein region and green in Alsace, France, and in the Mosel region of Germany. This shape is used elsewhere for grape varieties associated with Germany, such as White Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
4. Champagne (or other sparkling wine).
A proper wine glass allows you to enjoy the color, bouquet, and taste of a wine while discovering the balance, complexity, and harmony of the individual character. The wine glass should be made of clear crystal, the stem should not be too long or too short, and the top should be slightly narrower around than the bottom, allowing the bouquet to gather at the top. If possible, avoid colored and over-decorated glasses to truly experience the wine.
1. Champagne flute
2. Bordeaux red wine glass
3. Burgundy red wine glass
4. White wine glass
5. Sherry glass
6. Port glass
Learn basic food and wine pairings based on the custom and culture of the regions producing each wine.
Polenta, risotto, pasta with seafood, pizza, light meat dishes.
Roast chicken, capon, partridge, hare, roast duck or goose, grilled tuna, salmon, beef Bourguignon.
Grilled or roast beef, venison, game meat, birds, BBQ, pizza.
Roast pork and chicken, pasta, risotto, grilled vegetables, pizza, Italian sausage.
Hamburgers, pot roast, grilled chicken and vegetables, pizza, BBQ, enchiladas.
Grilled meat, poultry and vegetables, ratatouille.
Steak, roast turkey, grilled duck, pasta Bolognese, lasagna, Mexican chicken mole, pizza.
Seafood salads, pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables, Mexican food.
White fish grilled or steamed, sole, flounder, halibut, cod, swordfish, salmon, scallops, lobster, roast veal or chicken, pasta with seafood or chicken.
Roast or grilled veal or pork loin, sausage with choucroute, smoked salmon, foie gras, Peking duck, sushi.
Fish, shrimp or prawn, steamed shellfish, sautéed calamari, sushi or sashimi, fresh oysters.
Here are some basic guidelines when it comes to choosing wine for your menu:
In general, serve white wine before red.
Serve your light-bodied wines before your full-bodied wines.
Good wine should be served before great wine.
Young wine should be served before old wine.
Be sure to serve your dry wine before sweet. (Exceptions – for a first course of foie gras, serve a late harvest Sauterne or Gewürtztraminer.)
You can cleanse your palate before drinking a different wine by rinsing your mouth out with water.
A lighter dish should be served with a light-bodied wine, and a heavier dish should be served with a full-bodied wine.
White wine for fish, shellfish, white meat, poultry, and veal.
Red wine for dark meat, chicken, duck, tuna, and salmon.
Is your dish made with cream sauce? Choose white wine.
If you’re cooking a dish with wine, drink the same wine you cooked with.
Sparkling wines can be enjoyed at any time during the meal.
Start your understanding of wine terms, basics of aging wine and an intro to sparkling wines.
Aroma: This is a generally positive descriptor for the smell of a wine (e.g, fruity, spicy, earthy, etc.).
Balanced: Refers to the harmonious balance of a wine’s components (sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol, oak, etc.).
Body: This describes the density or viscosity of a wine. The body of a wine can be thin, light, medium, or full. You can check the body of a wine by swirling your glass and watching how the wine clings to the glass – the more it beads on the side of the glass, the closer it is to full-bodied.
Bouquet: This is similar to an aroma, but not quite the same. The bouquet refers to the complex scent that a wine develops over time during the aging process.
Complex: This term is used to describe a wine that is multidimensional in terms of aroma, flavor, etc.
Crisp: This trait is typical of wines with high acidity. A crisp wine will leave a lively sensation on the palate, similar to tartness.
Floral: This describes a wine that has an aroma of flowers. This aroma can be found in white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer (carnation, orange blossom, jasmine, grapefruits, rose petals, etc.) and in reds like Pinot Noir (roses, violets, etc.).
Fruity: This characteristic means the wine has a sweetness, richness, or body coming from ripe grapes. Specific fruits are often used in the description.
Nose: This is the total of all the aromas and odors that can be smelled.
Oaky: This refers to the aroma that is derived from oak barrel aging – it is usually described as “vanilla-like”.
Spicy: This refers to the aroma of common spices found in wine – cinnamon, cloves, anise, and black pepper are all common spices.
Good champagne can be expensive for many reasons:
Good champagne is made with the Méthode Champenoise, which is the traditional method used to make champagne.
Good champagne uses classic techniques, like a second round of fermentation in the bottle.
The fermentation process should be a hands-on operation when it comes to good champagne.
In Europe, the only sparkling wines that are allowed to use the name “champagne” are the wines that come from the Champagne region. Usually blended from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, the wines of Champagne are both the finest sparkling wines of the world and among the finest wines of any kind. These grapes can also be blended with different vintage wines to create a “Cuvée” blend.
This champagne is only made with the outstanding grapes harvested in select years, and it must be aged for at least three years. Some examples of vintage champagnes include Dom Pérignon (Moét & Chandon), Comtes de Champagne (Taittinger), Belle Epoque (Perrier-Jouët), and Grande Dame (Veuve Clicquot).
Most non-vintage champagnes produced are blends of wines that have been aged for at least two years.
Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchêne, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heidsieck Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Lauret Perrier, Mercier, Moét & Chandon, Mumm Perier-Jouët, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot.
Loire Valley, France (Crémante); Asti (Spumanti) and Veneto (Prosecco), Italy; and Catalonia Spain (Cava). Cava is the most popular sparkling wine in the world.
For sparkling wine, California uses white grapes like Chenin Blanc, Berger, Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Noir. We recommend these cellars: Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Jordan, Mumm Cuvée Napa, and Schramsberg.
There is a common misconception that wine always improves with age, but not every wine has good aging potential. Here is a list of wines that might be worth the wait.
Barbera 3-10 years
Cabernet Sauvignon 3-10 years
Grenache 2-10 years
Malbec 2-10 years
Merlot 2-10 years
Mourvedre 2-8 years
Nebbiolo 3-15 years
Pinot Noir 2-12 years
Pinotage 2-5 years
Sangiovese 2-10 years
Syrah/Petite Sirah/Shiraz 3-15 years
Tempranillo 2-10 years
White Merlot 1-3 years
Zinfandel 3-10 years
Chardonnay 2-8 years
Chenin Blanc 1-3 years
Gewürztraminer 1-3 years
Muscadet 1-5 years
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio 1-4 years
Sauvignon Blanc 1-4 years
Semillon 1-3 years
Viognier 1-3 years
White Riesling 1-3 years
Wines are defined by their types and regions of origin, each wine has its own distinguishing features.
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Chardonnay
Calories Per Glass:
110 - 170
Lasts One Week After Opened
Provence, Granache, Syrah, Tavel, White Zinfandel
Calories Per Glass:
110 - 170
Lasts One Week After Opened
Pinot Noir, Gamay, Nebbiolo, Granache
Calories Per Glass:
Lasts Two Days After Opened
Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Malbec, Tempranillo
Calories Per Glass:
Lasts 4 Days After Opened
Port, Sherry, Madeira, Vermouth
Calories Per Glass:
Lasts Up To 30 Days After Opened
Ruby: Youngest style of port, rich red color, fruity
Tawny: Tawny in color, mellow, rich, and very fine
Vintage: The best port of a single year: powerful, intense, sweet and long lived
Colheita: Vintage Tawny Port
Sercial: The lightest and driest
Verdelho: Sweeter and stronger than Sercial
Boal: Fuller and sweeter than Sercial and Verdelho
Malmsey: Richest, darkest, sweetest
Fino: Lightest and driest, pale color, tangy, young
Olorosó: Dark, rich dry, full-bodied
Cream: Sweetened Olorosó
Ampurdán, Alella, Penedès
Home of Spain’s sparkling wine (Cava) – fresh and crisp white wine
Unique reds in the Priorat
First rate white and red wines in the Costers del Segre
Home of some of Spain's most famous wines
Wines can age very well
Tempranillo is the most widely used variety in red wines from Rioja
Wines can be red, white or rosé
Soave, Bianca di Custoza, Prosecco di Canegliano. Amarone, Valpolicella, Bardolino
Chianti, Chianti Classico, Rufina, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano
Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco
Tocai, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco
Gavi and Cortese di Gavi, Asti and Moscati d’Asti
Best two red wines: Barolo, Barbaresco
Orvieto Classico, Est! Est! Est!!!, Orvieto, Montefalco
Blanc de Blancs: (made only with Chardonnay)
Blanc de Noirs: Pinot Noir grape
Extrasec (or) Extra Dry: Medium dry
Sec: (slightly sweet)
#1 Best: Chablis Grand Cru
#2 Chablis Premier
#4 Petit Chablis
Côte de Beaune: Best white, e.g Montrachet
Côte de Nuits: Best red, e.g. Chambertin, Vougeot, Vosne- Romañee
Best St. Émilion: Château Ausone, Cheval Blanc; Best Pomerol: Château Petrus
#1 Best: Château Haut-Brion
Mâcon-Villages, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint Véran
St. Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, Moulis
Gran Vin d’Alsace (50 of the best rated vineyards)
Côte de Provence, Bandol, Cassis; produces some of the best rosé wines
Sancerre/Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, Muscadet
North Valley: Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Condrieu
South Valley: Côtes du Rhône. Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Now that you know all about wines, here are a few classic wine recipes to take your wine knowledge to the next level.
2 bottle of red wine
1 cup Brandy
4 oranges, sliced
3 limes, sliced
3 lemons, sliced
2 liters Ginger Ale
Add all ingredients together (except Ginger Ale) and let brew over night. Before you serve, add Ginger Ale and pour over ice.
1 cup sugar
1 ounce gin or cognac
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces champagne
Make simple syrup: In a saucepan over low heat, warm sugar in 1 cup water until dissolved. Cool to room temperature before using. There will be extra syrup; refrigerate if not using immediately.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice: Shake gin or Cognac, lemon juice and ½ ounce of simple syrup. Strain into a chilled flute or cocktail coupe. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.