We’ve all made mistakes when serving wine. Here are the three easiest ways I’ve found to ruin a wine. I’m speaking from experience here!
1. Over oxidize it
Whether its in the glass or the decanter once its been opened the oxidation has begun. Sometimes we need the oxygen to come in and calm down some harsh tannins, reign in an adolescent wine, or let an older wine compose itself. However, there is a point in time after which your wine is no longer improving but starting to turn for the worst.
Pour a glass for yourself and periodically sip it to see if its ready. Especially if you’re serving the wine at a party. Let your guests join you once the wine is at its finest.
As a general rule only use aerators for young wines. Older wines should be decanted. Anything in between needs to be evaluated by you. If the tannins are too harsh, decant it. If you like it, drink it!
2. Serve it too hot or too cold.
Serving wine too hot or too cold can drastically affect the flavor of the wine. When a red wine is served too cold the tannins will be exaggerated. Wines that are served too warm will oxidize faster and the alcohol will evaporate more quickly. Neither of which is good!
Here are the general rules of serving wine:
- White wines should be served between 50 and 60 degrees F
- Red wines should be served between 60 and 65 degrees F
Other websites or wine experts may have another opinion of what the right temperature to serve a wine is. Which is why its so important to ask about serving temperatures when you make your purchase. However, if you are drinking a wine and it tastes different at home than it did at the winery try it again at a different temperature.
3. Pair it with the wrong food
This is not necessarily going to ruin your wine, however, it can ruin your experience. A high alcohol high tannin wine paired with a very spicy dish is going to set your mouth on fire and make it hard to enjoy either the food or the wine.
Because pairings are a combination of art and science I recommend you ask your local wine maker what pairing suggestions they have. Even if you forgot to ask you can always call or email them for information. They want you to have the best experience possible and as such will be glad to help you. I’ve emailed wine makers before and they’ve always been helpful.
Another great resource for iPhone and Android users is the Hello Vino app. Even if the wine you have is not specifically listed by the program you can get a general idea by searching for pairings by varietal. This is your best bet with a locally produced wine.
All of this may seem overly complicated to someone new to drinking wine but it really is worth learning about. An improperly stored or served wine can ruin your experience of a wine that you might love under the right conditions.