Drinking and serving wine, getting it right

Regardless of what you’re doing tonight – having dinner at your local or sitting at home watching Netflix– the news is grim: you’re probably drinking and, in our case as an industry, serving your wine wrong.

A recent study by local wine producer Taylors has found that 80 percent of Aussies drink red wine at room temperature.

Which we have now discovered is some sort of massive, unforgivable sin. In the average Australian home, the temperature ranges between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius. According to experts, this level of warmth robs a decent red wine of its full avour.

“The warm Australian climate is not so great for storing and drinking wine,” Taylors Managing Director Mitchell Taylor said. “It’s an issue that most wine lovers don’t know is having a massive impact on their enjoyment and appreciation of wine.” The whole ‘room temperature’ myth originated in drawing rooms in medieval France, where the average temperature was more appropriate at 14 to 16 degrees Celsius.

Not a red wine drinker? Don’t think you’re off the hook. There’s actually a similar problem with white wines, which most of us drink chilled, straight from the fridge.

Taylor says drinking white wine that’s too cold can dull its flavours, mask the aromas and increase its acidity. If you haven’t invested in one of those fancy thermal sensors, save your money and just follow this rule: put reds in the fridge 30 minutes before serving, and take whites out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Here are some other common mistakes to avoid making with wine:

  • Not letting a wine ‘breathe’. This may sound like a pretentious term only used by people who have Roman numerals in their names, but it’s actually important. Giving your wine a few breaths of air will help stimulate the aromas and enhance the flavour.
  • Filling your wine glass right to the top. Apart from being seen as bad manners, this is again about allowing wine to breathe. Swirling is done for the same reason, which is kind of diffcult to do with a fully-topped glass of wine.
  • Holding the glass by the bowl. The stem is there for a reason. If you’ve gone to the trouble of serving it at the right temperature, you don’t want to affect that with the body heat from your hand.
  • If you’re out at a bar or restaurant, don’t choose the second cheapest wine on the menu. Sommeliers are well-aware of why you’re doing this: you don’t want to look cheap, but you still want something kind of nice, right? This means they can adjust their prices accordingly, and you may not be getting the value you think you are.
  • Putting ice into your wine. This is mainly applicable if you’ve paid good money for the bottle you’ve got there. However, if you’ve gone for the $5 Sav Blanc on special, go nuts.
  • You may see wine stored under bright lights in a shop, but you’re actually supposed to keep it lying down in a cool, dark place to make it last longer.
  • Unnecessary swirling. Wine experts will tell you swirling is necessary to bring out and appreciate the wine’s aromas. Others will say it’s an act of sheer debauchery and does nothing more than scream ‘pretentious’. But certain wines are not meant to be swirled. Sparkling wine, for example, will dissolve and go fat.

Drinking white wine that’s too cold can dull its flavours, mask the aromas and increase its acidity.

So if you are serious about the food offering at your pub or club, make sure you know your wines too. After all, customers look to you for advice – so you need to know what you are talking about.

Or even better – if you are serving or recommending wine at your pub, club or casino – why not sign up for one of The Drop’s wine workshops, either in person or online? They’re free for members. Visit www.the-drop.com.au to find out more.

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