In what sort of glass should I be serving wine?
Tulip-shaped or inward-curving glasses allow you to swirl, tilt and get at the bouquet effectively, improving your ability to appreciate the wine. In order to do this, fill your glass to no more than one-third full. The extent to which a wine releases its aromas depends on the shape of the glass.
What serving temperature should I serve wine?
Serving wine at the right temperature makes all the difference. It does depend on personal preference but, as a general rule, always serve wines on the cool side as they will warm up in your hands, whatever the weather.
Serving White Wines: Chilled wines are refreshing. Chilling does mask flavour, so the finer the wine, the less it will need chilling. Remember, ice with water in an ice bucket chills more efficiently than just ice alone.
Serving Red Wines: The tannin level in a wine dictates the temperature at which it should be served. The more tannic a wine, the warmer you should drink it. Reds that are low in tannin can be chilled like a full-bodied white. If a red is served too warm, it will become soupy and all you will be able to taste and smell will be the alcohol. As with all wine, serve cooler rather than warmer.
NB 'Room temperature' - this expression was developed in the days when dining rooms were 5 to 6 degrees cooler than they are today due to the introduction of central heating. So err towards coolness!
In what order should I serve wines?
Dry before sweet, white before red, light before heavy, lesser before finer, young before old. This gives your tastebuds a chance to get used to the increasing strength or complexity.
When should I decant a wine?
Decanting is usually used as a means of removing sediment from a mature wine. It can also be very effective in softening a firm, young red wine. The younger and tougher the wine, the earlier you should decant. It is the pouring action, bringing the wine into contact with the air, that softens the wines. For mature wines, decant later rather than sooner. Exposure to air accelerates the wine's development. You can always swirl it around in your glass to bring it out.
Should I leave the wine to breathe?
Simply drawing the cork and leaving the bottle to stand for an hour or two before drinking it - 'allowing the wine to breathe' - does virtually nothing towards aerating the wine.