A Simple Guide to Wine Etiquette
Most of the time it doesn’t really matter if you use the right glass for your wine, or whether you pour it correctly.
But knowing a little basic wine etiquette can be useful when you have to attend business dinners or formal gatherings, or just when you’re visiting a classy restaurant.
So, here are a few of the key points you need to know:
Getting the right temperature
White wine should be served chilled to slightly above fridge temperature, but rich oaky whites need a little more time out of the fridge before serving. Serve sparkling wine icy cold, straight from the fridge and use an ice bucket to keep it cold.
Red wine is generally good at room temperature, although you can also chill some lighter reds.
Opening the bottle
If the bottle has a cork, open it quietly away from the table before serving.
Sparkling wine should be well chilled before you open it as the bubbles become livelier as the wine gets warmer. Remove the wire enclosure, hold the cork firmly in one hand and twist the bottle not the cork – there should be a gentle sigh not a loud pop!
Hold the wine bottle towards the base as you pour, and fill the glass less than halfway to give the wine room to breathe.
Twisting the bottle away from you as you stop pouring can help to stop drips. But if in doubt, use a napkin or paper towel to catch the drip.
Checking to see if a wine is corked
When you order wine in a restaurant, the sommelier will open your bottle and present it to you. This allows you to check if it is corked (gone bad).
When they have poured a little wine into your glass, sniffing it will tell you all you need to know. If it smells musty, ask the sommelier for their opinion – they will confirm that the bottle needs to be replaced.
If you wish, you can also sip the wine, it’s not bad etiquette, but it’s not really necessary. And check the wine before you swirl your glass as swirling may disguise the corked smell.
Choose the Right Glasses
Red wine is served in glasses with a wider bowl; white wine glasses are smaller and narrower. You can serve sparkling wines in tall narrow flutes, or maybe in vintage coupe glasses.
If you want to say cheers, clink the glasses together bell to bell to reduce the risk of breaking them. And be sure to look your clinking partner in the eye as you clink glasses. It’s considered impolite in many countries if you break eye contact when you say ‘Cheers!’
Linger over your wine
Don’t dive straight into your glass, however stressful your day has been. Take some time to sniff your wine first, so that your taste buds are ready to enjoy the subtle flavours of the wine.
Sip the wine rather than gulping and let your first sip of wine linger on your taste buds. This way, you will get to savour the full range of flavours in the wine.
Taking wine to a dinner party
If you are attending a dinner party, a bottle of wine is generally a good gift for your host.
But you shouldn’t expect your host to open the bottle and serve it that evening, as they will already have selected wines to match with the food they are serving. Taking an unchilled bottle of sparkling wine shows that your bottle is a gift for the host to enjoy at another time.