ABBY NASH: In this section, we cover wine service. We're talking about wine temperature, glassware, how to open bottles, and how to pour.
Red wines are served warmer than white wines. But not American room temperature, 70 degrees or 20 centigrade, or even warmer, though this happens far too often restaurants. Happened to me the last time I went out to dinner.
To preserve their refreshing quality, they need to be a few degrees cooler, 60 to 65 degrees or 16 to 18 centigrade. Warmer than this and their acidity seems to drop, while the perception of alcohol increases, leading to an overly soft, unbalanced wine experience.
To warm up a bottle of red wine just brought up from your cellar, which should be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 14 centigrade, place it in 70 degree Fahrenheit or 20 centigrade water for about eight to 10 minutes.
Fruity, young red wines like beaujolais, dolcetto and lighter styles zinfadels are even more refreshing. Their fruitiness enhanced a few degrees cooler still, 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 14 to 16 centigrade. Too cold, and red wines become overly tannic, while their flavors are muted.
White table wines are served 45 to 55 Fahrenheit or 7 to 14 centigrade. The lower end of this range is for Sauvignon blanc, and fruitier wines like Riesling. The higher end for fuller bodied pedigreed Chardonnays. Serve the latter colder, and their subtle character is muted.
To chill room temperature bottles of white wine quickly, submerge them in ice and water, not just ice. It will take only about 10 minutes to lower the temperature to 45 Fahrenheit or 7 centigrade compared to an hour in the fridge.
Can you put wine in the freezer? Yes, but don't forget about it, or you're going to get wine stalagmites in there.
Glassware should be clear, not colored, since the latter interferes with one of the least appreciated aspects of wine consumption, enjoying its variety of beautiful colors. Cut glass is OK.
Glasses need to be large enough to fit 5 to 6 ounces or 140 to 270 milliliters of table wine or 2 1/2 to 3 ounces, 70 to 85 milliliters of sweeteer fortified wine. Yet be no more than one 1/3 to 1/2 full to allow room for swirling. Brimful capacity should be a minimum of 12 ounces or 340 milliliters.
Glasses should be tulip or bowl shaped to trap the aromas in the glasses. There are different regional variations. Here's a burgundy ball and here's a glass similar to the hock style glass you see in Germany for Riesling. But all you really need is a good, all purpose style wine glass. Here's a couple of good examples, and here's another.
This, by the way, is a tasting glass. And this is the type of glass you see in casual roadside places for beverage wine all over France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. More for beverage wine than anything with any pedigree.
How to open wine. Most wines are inconveniently sealed with corks or something that looks like real cork. What other beverage is so difficult to get to?
We think of corks as something eternally linked to wine, but it's only beginning in the 1600s wine was stored in glass and sealed with corks. Corks do their job remarkably well. They provide an airtight seal.
They are a natural, biodegradable, renewable resource. The cork oak tree is stripped of bark every 10 to 12 years or so, but the trees live on. They're hygienic and inexpensive.
This innovation, which enabled wine to improve with time, instead of spoiling quickly in barrels, required invention of the corkscrew. Produced over the past 300 years in a fascinating range of forms and materials, the corkscrew remains for many an intimidating utensil. Let's see what we can do about this.
First, we remove the foil or capsule. The plastic or tin capsule is the modern counterpart to dipping the bottles in wax in days of old. We really don't need capsules, and some producers don't even use them anymore.
In the early 1990s, lead capsules were banned in the United States out of exaggerated fears about this toxin leaching into wine when the wine was poured and briefly coming in contact with the foil. Since older wines may still have lead caps, I recommend removing enough of the foil to provide a margin of safety.
So we're just going to cut the capsule off right here. This bottle has one of those little tear tags. And off it comes in one nice little piece here. But ordinarily, we would use the knife.
So we insert the tip of the screw or worm, as it's called, right into the center of the cork. And I like to go all the way into the cork, except leaving one turn of the screw showing. And at that point, we're going to use this-- we're going to use this business as a lever and pull up. And then I go all the way into the cork. And now I can remove the cork fully.
I do think though that it's the better part of wisdom, because I've seen people remove the corks at this point and still leave a little bit of cork left, actually finish the job with your hand and ease it out this way. And voila, this bottle is open.
Now alternatively, there is the pocket screwpull. pull And this is really my favorite weapon, if you will. It's involved with three different pieces. And it also includes a knife.
So we're going to remove this capsule under the lip of the bottle. And what you do is you put the screws through here. And you fit this handle on here over the rim of the bottle.
First couple of turns require a little push, and then it's really an effortless turning. And the cork just comes right out. The advantage of the screwpull is you get this very steady, firm pressure. Reverse it and out goes the cork.
You will also see the ah-so corkscrew, or the two pronged corkscrew used very often, especially by wineries when they have to open a lot of bottles quickly. Sometimes you can remove the foil, by the way, with your hands just in one go. And it really is OK to remove all of the capsule instead of cutting it.
So you begin by inserting one of these Teflon coated prongs, the longer one, between the cork and the side of the bottle. You push it in there until the other prong hits the cork. And then you work it back and forth, pushing it in until you've really gone as far as you can go. And then you just twist it out.
And again, it should come out a nice, one nice go. But sometimes I find that this particular model will actually chip the glass. And in my restaurant days, we bought them from my waiters and they kept chipping glass, so we decided not to use them. And then you can, in any case, wipe the excess cork or what have you from the rim of the bottle before you serve the wine.
I want to say something about a couple of these corkscrews and mention a few others. This waiter's type of corkscrew really should have at least five turns of the screw or worm. And they should be grooved to better catch the cork. The pocket screwpull is effective because it has a very long Teflon coated worm, and it doesn't tend to destroy the corks.
A few others that you may run into are this pump type of affair, which sometimes work and sometimes doesn't. And this corkscrew, which comes in very good versions. They tend to be somewhat older, brass versions marked Italy, and modern chrome versions. You'll notice on this one there's a different type of screw. Cheaper versions just manage to poke a hole in the cork and leave the cork in the bottle.
Even worse is this model here that you see when you're online at the wine shop. And you can see, the worm is very short. There's only four turns. This is very cheap, this is only for emergencies.
Time to pour. Minimize drips by turning the bottle counter-clockwise as you pour. Waiters keep a clean white towel handy to catch any drips that may result just in case.
You'll notice that this little flick of the wrist counter-clockwise, this little [FRENCH]. May take a little bit of practice. You can practice with bottles full of water, or just drink a lot of wine.
And some bottles don't seem to cooperate no matter what you do, hence this folded cotton towel to keep those rivulets of wine from running down the side of the bottle. In the trade, we call them "racing stripess." But then again, the trade calls empty bottles of wine "dead soldiers."
Now that we know how to open bottles of wine, next we talk about how to keep the bottles we don't finish.
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Join Abby Nash, lecturer in the Hotel School, for the basics of wine appreciation in a 'How To' format. Starting with your basic senses, you'll learn to discern flavor through smell and taste. Moving on, you'll learn the art of buying, serving and storing wines, how to open and preserve wines, manage the restaurant experience, and select wine and food pairings.
This video is part 4 of 10 in the Wine Appreciation series.