Serving

Choosing

Today white wines are served with beef, and red wines with fish. There are no set rules. Choose wines that please your palate and fit your budget. When in doubt, try out a wine you like with the dish you are planning to serve and see if they work well together. If not, experiment around - it's half the fun.

Decanting

The only good reason to decant a wine is if it's old enough to contain sediment, which rarely occurs in wines less than 20 years old. To decant, light a candle so that you can see through the neck of the bottle as you slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Make sure to hold the bottle so the sediment stays inside. You can also use a strainer to remove sediment.

Temperature

In general, white wines can be served chilled, and red wines at or slightly below room temperature, around 65-68 degrees. Coldness brings refreshment, but a warmer temperature will bring out more wine characteristics in both whites and reds. In fact, if reds are served too cold, they'll lose a lot of their flavor and aroma.

Breathing

Most wines don't need to breathe much, especially whites. Red wines will "open up" if allowed to breathe, bringing out their rich aromas. In most cases, the older the wine, the more its characteristics will change when it is exposed to air and allowed to breathe. Open a rich red wine a good half hour before serving to experience the full effect of its charms.

Pouring

Fill your glass only about a third to halfway full to allow the wine's bouquet to fill the rest of the glass before you enjoy your first sip. The extra room also lets you swirl the wine around, oxygenating it to release even more of its attributes. As you finish pouring, give the bottle a slight, quick turn and immediately return the bottle to an upright position. This will help you avoid drips and spills.

Glasses

The right wine glass allows you to enjoy a wine's full color, fragrance and taste. In general, look for a U-shaped clear glass with a stem. This allows you to see the wine's color and clarity, hold the glass without warming the wine with your hands, and experience the fragrance of the wine before you sample it. White wine glasses are typically shallower than red and are shaped so the wine is channeled to the appropriate taste buds. Red wine glasses are generally larger than white and may taper inward to concentrate the bouquet of the wine before you sip it.

Storing

You don't need a wine cellar to properly store wine. A cool, dark, dry place with a consistent temperature and some humidity will work too, such as a closet or a basement. Bottles should be stored on their side to keep the corks moist. For wine you plan on drinking sometime soon, use a wine rack in any room as long as it is out of direct sunlight.

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