Top 5 tips for greater wine enjoyment
Elevate your experience this holiday season
Every year, the silly season seems to approach faster than ever – and so do the parties. For many of us, menu planning also includes what we’ll drink alongside our meals. Whether you’re opening bottles you’ve saved for Christmas lunch, popping champagne to celebrate the new year, or simply treating yourself to a glass as a reward for wrapping a dozen presents, check out our top tips to help you enjoy every sip as much as possible these holidays.
1. Serve it at the right temperature
Whether you are opening a fresh white to start your meal or pouring that treasured red for family over Christmas lunch, pay attention to its serving temperature.
If we’re planning a big party in the middle of summer, one of the main considerations is ice: how will we keep our wines cold? But beware not to over-ice, as excessively cold wine will literally ice your palate. There’s no point planning the perfect Semillon to go with your prawns, or investing in real champagne to celebrate the end of another year, if you can feel the wine instead of tasting it.
On the flip side, serving red wines at “room temperature” during the Australian summer is one of the worst things you can do. The wine’s lighter characters – fruit, floral, and spice – get lost in the heat, and it becomes aromatically overpowered by alcohol and dominated on the palate by heavier characteristics like tannin. Instead of enjoying the nuances of that special bottle (even better alongside a silly paper hat and bad Christmas puns), you’ll find the wine is unbalanced and unpleasant.
2. Serve it in the right shaped glass
Our good friends at RIEDEL have spent the better part of the last five decades looking at the way the shape and size of your glass impacts your perception of aroma and flavour. And after nearly ten years working in partnership with them, we know that, to get the most of your wines, grape varietal specific glassware should be your number one choice.
Wine is about enjoyment, and drinking it from the right varietal glass will heighten your pleasure. Think about the investment you make in wine: spending money and time researching, buying, and cellaring wine. Throw it into any old glass (or, worse, plastic cup) means you’re not getting the full experience of what that wine has to offer.
To save you feeling as if you have to purchase every varietal glass for every wine you drink, RIEDEL recommends picking out your favourite grape varieties and investing in these shapes. If you can’t live without Shiraz, buy some Shiraz glasses. If you go crazy for Oaked Chardonnay, purchase the right glass for it, so you don’t have to compromise on the things you love this holiday season!
3. Decant it
For both old and young wines, decanting is a hugely important part of wine enjoyment. It’s a common misconception that you only need to decant older wines to remove sediment, but decanting young wines is like speeding up the ageing process.
Wine contains sulphur dioxide, which protects the wine as it ages. This protection also masks the fruit in young wines, which is why they can sometimes described as “tight”. Exposing the wine to oxygen burns off the sulphur, exposing more fruit and therefore more flavour. A decanted wine will show more character and depth; you only need to compare a decanted wine to a non-decanted wine to see the huge difference it makes.
Decanting also adds ceremony and theatre. With some incredibly stunning and elaborate decanters on the market, you can have some fun with it by investing in an eye-catching piece for your Christmas table.
4. Try something new
Don’t get stuck in a rut with your wine choices. It’s great to have favourites but, with wine styles evolving all the time, you will miss out on discovering something amazing if you don’t try new things.
If your summer is dotted with dinner parties, share your favourites with your friends and ask them to do the same. Theme your parties around regions or styles so you can use the opportunity to try something new and have a bit of fun with it.
Other ways to try new wines is to visit your nearest quality bottle shop or sign up with a wine service that can offer personalised picks based on what you already enjoy. If you’d rather drink out than at home, find wine bars that have great lists by the glass, and get to know the sommelier so they can suggest something new. Just don’t be afraid to ask them to cool the wine down, or for the better glassware hidden behind the bar!
5. Cellar it properly
The ideal scenario is that you are cellaring your wine in a designated wine fridge at the perfect temperature, but if you don’t have this set up, the most important factor is consistency.
A wine that goes from hot to cool to warm to cold will fare much worse than a wine which is cellared a degree or two above the right temperature. For the wine connoisseur who wants to enjoy their latest drop at home, we recommend the Miele Wine Conditioner, ensuring your wine is kept at the optimum temperature. Miele Wine Conditioner units feature up to three sections with separate temperature controls, making it perfect for storing different types of wine. Remember to pop your wine in for 30 minutes to an hour before you’d like to drink it.
Cellaring wine properly also means knowing the recommended cellar life of the wine, and drinking it at its optimum age. We can all be forgiven for getting excited and drinking wine early, but there’s nothing worse than hanging onto something for years then finally opening it to find it’s oxidised and lifeless!
This content was originally posted on RIEDEL.com