Buying, storing & serving

In order to maximise your enjoyment of wine drinking, it’s worth learning a few important tips to ensure that the wine arrives in the glass in top condition.

Buying - Firstly, you should make sure that the bottle is in good condition and, where possible, that it has been stored in reasonable condition prior to your purchase.

It shouldn’t have any signs of leakage around the neck, nor should the wine level fall below the capsule when the bottle is placed upright. Dented screwcaps are to be avoided too.

If you are buying the wine to keep for a reasonable amount of time (more than a year), then ask if there is any of the wine stored elsewhere, where the wine hasn’t been subjected to bright lights and temperature variation. These two things along with vibration and very low humidity cause the most damage to wine in storage.

Storing - If you have checked that the wine is in good condition, then ensure that it continues to be kept in the correct environment.

Do NOT put it in a rack in the kitchen. This is the worst possible place for wine storage.

Extremes of temperature, noise, humidity, and light variation all happen in the kitchen on a daily basis. The clichéd cupboard under the stairs is actually the next best place to a proper cellar, as long as it is radiator free and the wine is out of the light.

Serving - White wine is often served too cold. With the exception of dessert wine and fizz, white wine should be served at a temperature slightly warmer than a typical refridgerator. I remove the wine from the fridge where it should have been placed at least a few hours before. I then remove the closure and leave it on the side for 5 minutes. This seems to help the aroma of the wine.

For red wines, it pays to own a decent carafe or decanter. Most wines will benefit from being aired in one for between 5 minutes and half an hour, depending on how young and intense the wine is. Few wines throw a sediment these days unless the wine has significant age, like a port for example. It is essential to have a decanter for those occasions too. Merely pulling the cork from a wine and “letting it breathe” is not enough. In fact wine breathes better if poured into the glass ten minutes before drinking, if a decanter is not available.

I decant youthful top end oaked whites too. There is no reason why whites shouldn’t benefit from decanting as much as reds. Red wines should be served one or two degrees cooler than the temperature of the room. Red wine that is too warm is possibly the biggest wine sin of all.

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