Planning a Party: Good ways with wine
Chill all white wines to about 10°C (50° F) before serving. Don’t over-chill or the flavour will be lost; an hour in the fridge is usually enough. Serve sweet wines at a slightly lower temperature (6-8°C/43-46°F) than dry whites. In emergencies, you can chill a white wine in the freezer, but only for five minutes, and set a timer so that you don’t forget about it.
Most red wines are ideally served at room temperature – about 18°C (65°F). Beaujolais, Burgundy and some light Italian red wines are best served slightly colder-about16°C (61 °F).Uncork or decant red wine about an hour before serving to allow it to develop its flavour.
If the cork breaks when you are opening a bottle of wine, push the part that remains in the neck into the bottle.
After pushing in the cork, you will usually need to strain the wine to remove any small bits of cork that may have crumbled off. Use a fine tea strainer, a piece of muslin or a coffee filter, and decant the strained wine into a carafe or a clean bottle.
Before pouring any wine, wipe the mouth of the bottle with a clean cloth to remove any cork or dirt particles which may contaminate the contents.
What goes with what?
There’s no strict rule about serving white wines with fish and red wines with meat, but generally it’s a good guide. If you’re not sure which wine to choose, consult an expert. Many off-licences have knowledgeable, well-trained staff who can help you choose wines to match your menu and budget.
Old red wines and ports may also need decanting to separate the wine from any sediment that has formed. To decant a wine, leave the bottle standing upright for a few hours so that the sediment settles at the bottom. Then, holding the bottle up to the light, pour the wine carefully and smoothly into another container, leaving behind the dregs. Never decant champagne, sparkling wines or white wine of any sort.
The trick to opening bottles of champagne or sparkling wine safely is first to chill them – warm champagne will always explode on opening as it’s under greater pressure. To remove the cork, twist the bottle, not the cork. Use a napkin to hold the cork, point it out of harm’s way, and don’t let it go – flying corks go with great force and can cause injury or damage. Have the glasses lined up ready for pouring.
Keep your champagne bubbly
A trace of detergent on a glass can kill champagne bubbles, so always make sure champagne glasses have been rinsed in clear water after washing.
How far to fill a wine glass
Apart from champagne, wine should be poured only halfway to the top of the glass, so that the drinker can savour the bouquet as well as the taste. Fill champagne glasses almost to the rim, so that the bubbles last as long as possible.