Person pouring red wine into wine class from decanter
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  • Wine etiquette: serving friends and family.

Have a basic understanding of different wine glasses.

There’s a reason that there are different types of wine glasses for different types of wine. Believe it or not, a wine glass can impact the taste and experience of tasting wine. But before you feel obligated to run out and get a variety of different glasses, know that for the most part, two or three simply shapes and sizes will do.

Wine Folly provides a handy article called “The Importance of a Proper Glass”. Different shapes of wine glasses allow for a better aroma experience, more air to get to the wine, and can keep a wine from warming up too quickly.

Investing in white wine glasses, red wine glasses, and specialty glasses for champagne or dessert wines will suffice for most serving situations.

Wine will taste better when it’s slightly chilled.

Many new wine collectors ask the question, “What’s the best temperature to store my wines?” In general, below is a good guideline to follow for the appropriate temperature for serving wine:

  • 40-50 degrees: light, dry white wines and sparkling wine
  • 50 – 60 degrees: Full-bodied white wines and light fruity red wines
  • 60 – 65 degrees: Full-bodied red wines and port wines

There are very specific recommendations for different kinds of wines for those who really want to delve into wines, but the above will suffice for serving friends and family.

There is no one right way to open a bottle of wine.

On the market today, there are a dizzying number of wine openers available, from the simple basic corkscrew to the winged corkscrew. There are even tabletop openers and electronic openers.

The suggestion is: find the wine opener that you’re the most comfortable with. Not every opener is right for every person, so find the one that you can open a bottle effortlessly: THAT is the right opener for you.

Bottle or decanter?

It’s true that nearly every red wine tastes better decanted. Decanting is the one thing you can do that will greatly improve the flavor of red wine in most cases.

The classic method is to pour wine into a glass wine decanter and let it sit for about 30-45 minutes. The faster way is to use a wine aerator which decants wine almost instantaneously. Except for very old red and white wine, almost no wine will be harmed by decanting it.

It’s also a nice presentation for a wine, though many keep the bottle on the table so guests can see what exactly they’re drinking.

Knowing the standard pour for wine.

Wine glasses aren’t meant to be filled to the brim! Below is the standard pour for most wines (and of course, you can always refill the glass): the rule of thumb is that a pour is somewhere around the 5-ounce mark.

That will give you about five glasses of wine per bottle, which can help with planning when you have guests over.

Serve your guests what they want.

While there are definitely some wines that pair better with certain foods than others, at the end of the day, wine is for enjoyment. So, if your guest insists on a robust Cabernet that will likely overpower their meal, so be it.

People have very individual tastes! The best way to address this is to have a choice of wines available, and perhaps make a suggestion for pairing, but let them drink what they want.

The above are a few good concepts to keep in mind regarding proper wine etiquette for serving friends and family.

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