Preparing to taste
Before serving a Loire wine , here are some tips to open your bottle with success, to cool it and decant it if necessary.
How do I open a bottle of wine?
Remove the capsule
To avoid contact with the tin/lead alloy which could contaminate the wine, capsules were historically cut below the rim or in the middle. Nowadays it is quite acceptable to cut them above the rim. The new plastic or aluminium capsules sometimes have a pull-tab below the ring on the bottle collar. A foil-cutter cuts the capsule away cleanly
Uncorking the wine
Use a cork screw (also known as a sommelier’s knife) with a ‘worm’ comprising at least 5 spirals. Screw the corkscrew in far enough to be able to draw the cork our without breaking it. The corkscrew should never be allowed to pass right through the cork.
How do I refresh my wine?
Chill wine in an ice bucket, a chiller or an ice bag filled with cold water to which you have added a handful of ice cubes. Avoid letting the ice touch the glass of the bottle. To chill wine quickly, use a proprietary frozen sleeve which slips over the bottle. Only young, uncomplex wines should be chilled in the fridge.
When and how do I decant my wine?
Decanting can be useful to aerate a young wine, exposing it to the air to enhance the expression of its terroir, flavours and personality. Decanting allows a wine to be ‘aged’ rapidly – notably if you want to enjoy your wine before it naturally reaches its peak. We recommend a clear glass decanter with a wide base.
Note that wine is difficult to store in a carafe, and needs to be consumed within 24 hours. Wines should be decanted an hour or two before serving to allow the flavours to develop. Older wines can also be decanted to separate the sediment (tannins and colouring elements) from the wine. A carafe with a narrow neck should be used in this case, avoiding excessive contact with the air.
NB: Some powerful, high-quality white wines also benefit from being decanted. Mature wines can be fragile, and should be handled with care. Pour them gently into your carafe, somewhere with enough light (from a candle or lamp) to see the sediment easily, and to stop pouring in good time
At what temperature should I serve my wine?
- Whites and dry rosés: 6/8°C
- Demi-sec and sweet whites : 8 - 12°C
- Light reds: 14/16°C
- Structured reds: 15/17°C
- Sparkling wines : 6/8°C
Too cool a temperature will play down a wine’s good qualities as well as its faults; too high and a wine loses its fruity flavours, emphasising instead the alcoholic heat.
Here’s a tip for checking temperature accurately: use a wine thermometer. There are many types available from specialist wine shops, ranging from the traditional glass thermometer to digital and LCD gadgets. Any one of them will help ensure that you serve your wine at the right temperature.
Before serving your wine – some useful tips
A 75cl bottle will serve up to 6 glasses of wine.
If you are serving your wine in the bottle, opening it an hour beforehand will make little change, unless your pour out a small quantity, exposing a bit more of its surface area to the air. This will also give you a chance to taste the wine, and decide whether you need to decant it. It is advisable to check the glass before use for residual odours from washing up detergent, cardboard etc.
First of all, pour a small amount of wine into your own glass. Taste it, then serve your guests. When tasting wine, never fill the glass more than one third full; when serving with a meal, the norm is to serve the glass almost half full. Filling the glass completely may sound like a good idea, but it prevents the full aroma from being channelled to the taster. If only one third or one half full, the glass traps the sometimes volatile aromas that come to the surface of the wine.
Serve your guests from the right. Hold the bottle by its body and pour, ideally not touching the rim of the glass.
Remember to drink in moderation, and always have fresh water available.