Quick Recipes and Easy

Wine Tips

Serving wine
– Your everyday red wine doesn’t need special treatment before serving – just make sure it comes to room temperature before drinking (that’s about 14-18ºC degrees).
– Finer red wine should be brought to room temperature slowly before opening, so if you have stored it somewhere cool, take it out the day before opening (but obviously don’t open it).
– If you are going to order an expensive fine wine in a restaurant, it’s worth calling the day before to let them know (you will probably have to pay for it in advance too). It means that they can bring it to room temperature and open it and allow it to breathe properly before you arrive. We regretted not calling a posh restaurant once when we were going for lunch and plotted to drink a bottle of Opus One. We had to fill in the time waiting for it to breathe with a glass of white burgundy which took the edge off the experience a small. If you are spending that kind of money on a bottle, it makes sense to have it managed perfectly from the bottle to the glass. (Both wines were worth it, if only for the decadent experience.)

Corkscrews
– Corkscrews date back to the Romans in the 17th century.
– A collector paid over £18,000 for an 18th century silver pocket corkscrew at Christies.
– There are lots of different corkscrews – it’s better to pay for a excellent one as the cheap ones eventually break off into the cork. If you don’t want to strain your muscles, get one that nearly removes the cork itself.

Allowing the wine to breathe
– You let the wine breathe to ‘open’ it so the aromas and the full qualities of the wine are released (if you had been stuck in a bottle for a excellent while you would need some air too).
– For your average wine, there is no need to allow it to breathe for too long (you may even spoil it).
– Pouring wine into the glass and letting the air get at it is better than leaving it in the bottle to breathe (how much air is going to get into that small aperature anyway).

Decanting
– You decant a wine, that is pour it from the bottle into a decanter or carafe, to separate a wine from its sediment. It also aerates the wine as more of the surface of the wine is exposed to the air.
– You only really need to decant excellent red wines, mature clarets and vintage port though sometimes you’ll find sediment in strong reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah in a lower price bracket.
– To decant, leave the bottle of wine to settle for a day or two so the sediment is certainly sitting on the bottom, then pour the wine carefully into a spotlessly clean container leaving the sediment in the neck of the bottle. Don’t be tempted to pour the last bits through a sieve to squeeze a bit more wine out of the bottle! Leave a small wine with sediment at the end or there is a danger that you will undo all your excellent work and taint the wine.
– Decanter magazine found that decanting too long in advance was ‘not that beneficial’. Their conclusion was that the best option is ‘just to open and serve’. It’s up to you. They also suggest that decanting wines that normally don’t require it can help the wine to bloom and ‘attain a stage of development that normally requires years of ageing’.
– You usually don’t decant white wines (except for sweet whites) but oaked whites like Chardonnay can benefit.
– People have been known to use decanters to cheat their guests of the best wine. The snobbery attached to it means that people often assume that a wine that has to be decanted is expensive. If you want to show off in a excellent restaurant, order an average red and question for it to be decanted. Everyone will assume you have spent a fortune. Of course, if you are President Nixon you would have Château Margaux served to you in your decanter, and the rest of your guests would be served a less celubrious wine in theirs.

Temperature
– Drink white wine at about 11ºC so you can taste everything with the exception of light whites and sparkling wines which should be drunk at 8-9ºC.
– Reds are at their best between 14-18ºC. Beaujolais and the lighter reds can be drunk chilled.

Glasses
– Wine glasses: Austria’s Riedel are the wine glass maker – it’s worth looking them up to see the variety of glasses they offer, nearly one for each grape and style of wine. They believe tht glass has an effect on the wine drinking experience and that the shape of a wine glass enchances the pleasure of drinking wine.
Riedel believe that the curve on the lip of some of their glasses guides the wine to the centre of your tongue so you balance the fruit and the acidity and get the best enjoyment from each wine. We leave that one for you to test personally. Have fun!
– Lead crystal glasses help to make bubbles in champagne and make wine look particularly brilliant.
– Wine tasting glass: for wine tasting you will need the ISO (International Standards Organisation) glass. You’ll find one in any excellent wine shop. Sometimes you get them as part of the fee of a wine course.
– Champagne: use a flute, not a wide open coupe which makes the bubbles dissipate and causes the champagne to go flat. Lead crystal helps to make bubbles.
– Washing: According to Riedel, you wash a wine glass in warm water, then steam it carefully over boiling water, and polish it using two linen tea towels. Hold the glass by the base and polish, using your left hand to hold the bowl gently while you polish it with your right hand. Never twist the base and the bowl. And that’s you finished. (Well, except now you have to do the rest of them. It serves you right for not being a lone drinker.)
– Don’t use washing up liquid or place your wine glasses in the dishwasher – the residue it leaves taints the wine and it takes about 12 washes to get the stuff off properly.

Storing wine
– Keep wine in the dark, in a cool place at about 10ºC. Check the humidity to keep the seal of the wine cork in excellent nick. Eurocaves, effectively refridgerated units for wine – are made specially to look after every aspect of your fine reds and whites. You’ll find suppliers on the internet.
– Store wine on its side to keep the cork moist, except for sparkling wines which should be kept upright.
– When you buy fine wines by the case, make sure you get the original wooden box and store the bottles in it. It is vital to have the box if you wish to auction or sell them privately later.

Squeezing every last drop from the bottle
– If you seal your wine properly you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week and it will still be drinkable.
– We use the simplest plastic tube wine sealer that you buy in the supermarket or wine shop which pumps the plastic stopper back into the bottle. It works fine for everyday wines.
– Reds have a longer life if resealed and kept in the fridge than whites, but you can certainly use the white to cook with if it is not as fresh after a few days. You can use a sealer with a plastic cork or press the cork back in tightly.
– You may want to buy something more sophisticated for fine wines. Your fine wine seller can recommend the best one.
– The trick with saving wine is to reduce the amount of air that can get at it. Transfer half finished bottles of wine into clean half bottles and recork/reseal.
– Resealing a bottle with a screwcap won’t save the wine for later, so the only thing to do is buy a wine sealer or recork with a new cork.
– Though some people reckon this is sacriligous, you can freeze leftover wine in an icecube tray. When it is frozen, place the wine cubes into a freezer bag and tie off. Use white cubes for risotto and red for beef or lamb casseroles. You can also add fresh chopped herbs to each wine icecube before freezing for herby wine cubes. (With apologies to purists.)

Anne Kennedy works as a food writer based in Ireland who has a fantastic like and appreciation for wine and demystifies it at every opportunity. As Managing Editor of greatfood.ie greatfood.ie, Ireland’s food and wine website, she is delighted to share recipes, tips, cooking and wine knowledge with people from all over the world.



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