Know how to drink wine better and you will drink better wine
Today most wine consumers are seeking instant gratification when purchasing wine and the majority of wines purchased are consumed within hours of purchase and most are just being popped and poured. The art of aging wines has been for the most part pretty much left to only the serious collector.
I’m sure by now you have seen those recommended drinking windows on wine reviews that say something like "best after 2015". That does not mean the wine is going to be bad if you drink it in 2013, in fact if you drink the wine properly it can even be better in 2013 than 2015 and beyond. So, the question is are you getting the best quality and value from the wine you are drinking? Well, in most cases the answer is probably not, but I am going to tell you how you can get the best quality and value back from your purchase, and here’s how.
This is extremely important; no matter if the wine is $10 or $300 there is no question about the importance of decanting. So, for how long should I decant you may ask? Well that depends on the wine. Generally speaking, "new-world" wines (from outside of Europe) typically are riper and ready to drink at an earlier stage and should be decanted for about 1-2 hours, while "old-world" wines (from Europe) tend to be less ripe and require more age so they should be decanted for anywhere from 1-4 hours. If you decant properly you will notice a drastic difference.
Now, what about if you are going out to eat and don't have hours to decant a wine. Well, if it is a BYO, then you can decant at home before you go and funnel the wine back into the bottle or if you plan to purchase a wine off the wine list you can call ahead, order the wine and have the sommelier decant the wine for you (normally this requires a credit card).
(Decanting is a process of aerating wine, or letting the wine "breathe" through a larger vessel which allows the wine more contact with air. Contact with air benefits the wine by smoothing some of the harsher aspects of the wine making it more approachable)
Second, drinking your wine at the right temperature is also very important. The wine should be consumed at room temperature; this does not mean the current temperature in your kitchen. Room temperature is considered to be 55-62 degrees. Big full-bodied reds should be drank at around 59-62 degrees, while medium-bodied reds should be consumed at around 58-60. While white wines should be drank a little cooler, it's a common misconception to drink them ice cold. Drinking a wine ice cold will mask the aromas and flavors in the wine. Full-bodied whites normally show best at about 52-54 degrees. If you're like most of us and don't have a temperature controlled wine room, you can just put the decanter or open bottle in your refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to drinking (whites slightly longer) to do the trick.
Below you will find an info-graphic on the drinking temperatures we recommend.
Using the correct stemware is the third factor in this equation. Choosing the proper stemware is very important, but not as crucial as decanting and temperature. Today, there is pretty much a wine glass for each specific grape varietal. Now, I'm not saying to go out and buy every style glass you can find, but I do recommend having a seperate glass for full-bodied reds, medium-bodied reds, full-bodied whites, medium-bodied whites, sparkling and dessert wines. The right stemware will not make a wine taste better but it will allow for a wine to release more aromas therefore making it much more pleasing to your senses.
Other Gadgets and Methods
There are also other methods and gadgets out there to aerate wine. Gadgets like the Vinturi Wine Aerator which claims to instantly aerate wine. Then there is the method of putting your wine in a blender to speed up the aeration process. Although these methods may work I still prefer the more traditional method of just decanting the wine in a decanter.
So, just be sure to decant properly, drink at the correct temperature and use the right stemware to get the most out of a bottle of wine and you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference it will make!
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.