Enhancing the At-Home Wine Service Experience
As the demand for luxurious experiences grows, serving quality wines at home has emerged as a popular choice among wine enthusiasts. Transforming a regular evening into a refined culinary experience at home allows individuals to experiment with various flavours and aromas in the comfort of their own homes. However, to fully appreciate the wine's complexities and nuances, several key factors require careful consideration. This article will serve as a guide to assist both experienced connoisseurs and beginners alike in delivering a truly exceptional at home wine experience.
1. Proper Wine Storage
The first step in ensuring an outstanding wine service experience at home is to properly store wines for optimal taste. This includes maintaining a suitable temperature, humidity, and protecting the bottles from light and vibration. Knowledge of wine storage guidelines are imperative to preserving the integrity of wine before serving. Check out our previous article on How to Store Wine here.
2. Selecting the Right Glassware
Choosing the appropriate glassware is essential to enhancing the wine's aroma, taste, and overall enjoyment. The shape and design of wine glasses are carefully crafted to enhance the sensory experience. There are hundreds of different wine glass designs available. However, they all tend to follow some basic general rules. Most glasses will narrow at the rim allowing the aromas to be concentrated in the glass and appreciated better. Red wine glasses typically have larger bowls to allow for aeration and maximise the wine's aroma and flavour, while white wine glasses have narrower bowls to preserve the more delicate nuances and direct them towards the top of the glass. Additionally, sparkling wine flutes and tulip-shaped glasses help maintain the effervescence and visuals of the bubbly wines.
3. Understanding Wine Temperature
The temperature at which wines are served significantly impacts the taste experience. Here is a list of recommended service temperatures
|STYLE OF WINE||TEMPERATURE|
|Sweet wines such as Sauternes and Eiswein||6 - 8c|
|Sparkling wines such as Champagne, Cava, Asti, Prosecco||6 - 10c|
|Light to medium bodied white such as Pinot Grigio, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Fino Sherry||7 - 10c|
|Medium to full bodied, oaked White Wines such as White Burgundy, Fume Blanc, Californian Chardonnay||10 - 13c|
|Light bodied red wines such as Beaujolais, Valpolicella||13c|
|Medium to full bodied reds such as Red Bordeaux, Rioja, Australian Shiraz, Amarone della Valpolicella, Vintage Port, Barolo, Chateanuneuf-du-Pape||15-18c|
Many high quality red wines will form some deposits during the ageing process. These wines should be decanted to separate the deposits from the wine as well as assist with its areation. Some young wines also benefit from aeration, but this can also easily be done by swirling in the glass. Aeration of wines softens tannins, opens up aromas and flavours of wines as well as engance the overall drinking experience. Please note that simply opening a bottle of wine before serving will not have the same effect as decanting as too little of the wine is in contact with the air.
While decanting can enhance the flavours and aromas of many wines, there are certain types of wines that generally do not benefit significantly from the process. We would not recommnd decanting delicate white wines, light bodied reds, dessert and sparkling wines.
5. Pairing Wine with Food
Pairing wine with food can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be! To make effective food and wine pairing one must understand a few simple rules.
- Sweetness and umami in food increases the perception of bitterness, astringency, acidity and alcohol, as well as decreases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness in wine. Therefore, as a simple rule it is best to ensure that the wine is sweeter than the food. High levels of umami in a dish can be balanced by the addition of salt or acid to the dish. As long as this is in line with the basic nature and character of the dish.
- Acidity in food increases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness, as well as decreases the perception of acidity in the wine. It is best to pair high acid foods with high acid wines, otherwise the wines can taste flat and too soft.
- Salt in food increases the perception of the body in wine and decreases the perception of astringency, bitterness and acidity in the wine. Salty foods usually pair well with a wide variety of wines.
- Bitterness in food will increase the perception of bitterness in the wine. Try to go for very low tannin and fruity wines.
- Chilli increases the perception of bitterness, astringency, acidity and heat from alcohol, as well as decreases the perception of the body, richness, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.
- Flavour intensity of the wine should be matched with the flavour intensity of the food so that one does not overpower the other.
6. Preserving Wine
If there is some wine leftover, it is essential to store it correctly in order to preserve the aromas and taste. If a wine is not stored correctly it will lose it's aromatic intensity very quicly and will oxidise developing vinegary aromas and flat taste. The easiest way to preserve wine is to replace the closure and store the bottle in the fridge. This will extend drinkability by a few days. There are also other methods such as a vacuum system, which removes the oxygen from the bottle (not suitable for sparkling wine) and inert gas systems, which replace the oxygen in bottle with a gas (nitrogen or argon - do not react with wine).
With the ever increasing accessibility to good and exceptional quality wines, achieving a great wine experience at home can be relatively easy. Follow a few simple steps such as correct wine storage, use of correct glassware, serving temperatures, decanting where necessary and ensuring to match wines to the food in a way that complements each other.