Wine Basics - Introduction to Wine, Wine Drinking Opening & Serving Wine - How to Open & Serve Wine

Opening & Serving Wine - How to Open & Serve Wine

If you already have some wine, what's the best way to open and serve your wine without looking like a klutz? There is so much grace and culture traditionally associated with wine that some people are afraid of looking foolish when serving it, as if they are going to commit some wine faux pas. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, so this isn't something to waste a lot of time worrying about, but if you are concerned with making the best impression there are a few things to learn about the best ways to open and serve your wine to guests.
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How and Why Should I Decant My Wine?

Decanting wine can be a nice part of the wine serving ritual and is something many think about when they think about serving fine wine. Not all wines need to be decanted, though. Wine only needs to be decanted if it is a red wine that has formed a sediment in the bottle while aging for several years. The sediment in red wine helps give it character and complexity, but you don't want to that sediment in your wine glass when you drink. Decant your wine in advance to eliminate the sediment

Why Is There Sediment in Wine?

Why do some wines have sediment and is wine sediment dangerous? Are there different kinds of sediment in wine? Put simply sediment can form naturally in wine both during the fermentation process and while maturing in a bottle. Some wines are more likely to develop sediment and some wines will almost never form sediment. Wine sediment isn't harmful and can be perceived as a sign of wine's quality, but you will normally want to separate sediment from wine before serving and drinking.

Wine Serving Temperature Guide

Serving wine at the right temperature can be more important to getting the most out of a wine than just about any other factor. Serving wine that's too warm or too cold can make even the best wine taste bad while mediocre wines can really shine if you hit just the right temperature spot. The basic rule of thumb is to serve white wines at lower temperatures and red wines at slightly higher temperatures. Sparkling wines are served the coldest while ports and fortified wines are served the warmest.

What Order Should Wine Be Served In?

Most people probably don't think much about the proper serving order for wines, but serving or drinking wine in the right order can make a big difference. Serving or drinking wines in the wrong order can negatively affect both the taste of the wines as well as the taste of the food, so paying attention to which wines are served when can enhance the meal, helping everyone enjoy both their wine and their food all the more.

How to Open Champagne Bottles

Opening wine bottles is difficult for many people, but opening bottles of champagne or sparkling wine creates more difficulties because of the pressure created by the carbonation of the wine — and the pressure of looking good without braking anything. Removing corks from champagne bottles is a little more dangerous because the pressure of the carbonated wine can force the cork out at high velocity, breaking glass or damaging an eye. Opening champagne and sparkling wine isn't difficult, but must be done with care.

Removing Cork Pieces from Wine

Many people experience some anxiety over removing corks from wine bottles because they don't want to make any mistakes that damage the wine or make them look foolish. A common problem when removing corks is probably pieces of cork falling into the wine — either a few tiny pieces or even a large section of cork. Most people worry too much about not looking sophisticated with wine and they shouldn't worry a lot about getting cork in wine. Everyone does it and it's not hard to fix.

Twin Lever, Wing-Type Corkscrew

One of the most popular and common corkscrews today uses two levers set in a wing formation to wrench the cork up out of the wine bottle. It's much larger than the average corkscrew and has a lot of moving parts, but many people feel that it works better than other types of corkscrews because it allows them to use the strength from both hands while the wine bottle sits on the table or counter. The truth, though, is that on average the twin-lever corkscrew is inferior to most other options for opening wine.

Corks, Screw Caps, and Boxes

Wine is not as fragile or sensitive to temperature as milk or juice, but it is perishable and must be properly sealed against the environment. Wine bottles have traditionally been sealed with natural corks covered by foil capsules, but today some wine makers use synthetic corks, screw caps, or boxes. Each has advantages and disadvantages; some wine traditionalists treat natural cork as the only appropriate way to seal wine bottles but you can comfortably buy wine sealed with synthetic cork, screw caps, or in a box.


One popular corkscrew isn't actually a corkscrew at all because there is no "screw" part to it. Upon initial examination, it can be difficult to understand how it's supposed to remove corks from wine bottles at all, leading some to think that the name "Ah-So" comes from the reaction people have once they see how it works — and it does work well, though not consistently enough to warrant using as your standard cork remover.

Wine Bottle Capsules

What is the foil thing covering the top of the wine bottle? That's the capsule. Before you can take the cork out of a bottle of wine, you have to get through the capsule covering that wineries place over the tops of their wine bottles. Traditionally the capsules have been metallic, but it's now common to use cellophane and other materials as well. Capsules serve two purposes, one practical and one aesthetic: they keep the corks clean and they look better than bare cork.

Screwpull Corkscrews

A little more complicated than the traditional waiter's corkscrew, the Screwpull is probably the best alternative corkscrew available. Screwpull is a trademarked name for a patented design created by Dr. Herbert Allen in the 1980s and many have found that the Screwpull can be the easiest and most efficient means for removing a cork from a wine bottle. A key selling point for the Screwpull is that just about anyone can use it with great effectiveness, without the need for any real practice.

Corkscrew Types

It may be due to the increasing popularity of wine, but there are many more types of corkscrews available today than there were a couple of decades ago. All claim to make a difficult task easier and some just appear designed to look fancy. Although there have been some genuinely new and creative ideas when it comes to removing corks from wine bottles, the basic process today is the same as it has been for as long as corks have been used to seal wine bottles. In the end, the traditional method of removing corks from bottles remains one of the best.

Waiter's Corkscrew

The waiter's corkscrew is the old, traditional, standard corkscrew. It's used by waiters all around the world when serving wine at restaurants and can be purchased cheaply in almost any wine or kitchen store. The waiter's corkscrew is reminiscent of a pocket knife or Swiss Army knife: on one side is a fold-out spiral screw and on the other a fold-out knife for removing the foil capsule. Covering the screw is a fulcrum arm to help lever the cork out. Some models have a bottle-cap remover as well.

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