Opening and Serving

There are some techniques that will help you to serve wine.

When opening a bottle of still wine remove the top of the (plastic or metal) capsule with a knife or corkscrew. The type of corkscrew you use is completely up to you, but try to use one smooth slow motion when drawing out the cork. This will stop corks, especially old and dry ones, from crumbling. If a cork does crumble, don’t worry too much as the wine still can be saved with some careful decanting. Once the cork has been removed give the inside of the neck a quick clean and pour.

Care should be taken when opening sparkling wine as there is a considerable amount of pressure inside the bottle (about five atmospheres). Chilling the wine will reduce the pressure, otherwise the cork will burst out with a lot more force.

Remove the foil and the wire muzzle, then be sure to grip the cork as your hand is now the only thing holding it in place. Tilt the bottle to an angle of about 45° degrees, and while still holding the cork firm, take the base of the bottle with your other hand and turn the bottle, not the cork. While twisting the pressure will start to force the cork out, but the aim is to resist the pressure and softly ease the cork out.

Different styles of wine should be enjoyed at specific temperatures. General wisdom has it that white wine should be served chilled and red at room temperature, but this is a little too general. Think of drinking a nice bottle of red in an Australian summer when temperatures reach over 40°. See a guide to wine styles and optimum drinking temperatures here:

Wine typeExamplesTemperature
Light bodied sweet dessert winesSauternes6–10°C
White sparkling winesChampagne6–10°C
Aromatic, light bodied whiteRiesling, Sauvignon Blanc8–12°C
Red sparkling winesSparkling Shiraz, Lambrusco10–12°C
Medium bodied whitesChablis, Semillon10–12°C
Full bodied dessert winesOloroso Sherry, Madeira8–12°C
Light bodied red winesBeaujolais, Provence rosé10–12°C
Full bodied white winesOaked Chardonnay, Rhone whites12–16°C
Medium bodied red winesGrand Cru Burgundy, Sangiovese
14–17°C
Full bodied red winesCabernet Sauvignon, NebbioloCabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo
15–18°C