The serving of a wine is not just a simple task of opening the bottle and emptying its contents into a glass. While this will accomplish the ultimate goal, there are some things you can do to bring a wine into its full intended maturity. In particular allowing a wine to “breath” prior to its consumption will let it develop its full flavor and aroma.
The “breathing” process is one where you expose the wine to air. This could as simple as opening the bottle and allowing it to sit or pouring the bottle into a decanter. Typically you would want to do this about an hour prior to consuming for red wines. White wines do not benefit as much from breathing and can therefore be consumed immediately after opening.
One method of accelerating the breathing process is to use a decanter. As you pour the wine into the decanter it is forced to mix with more air as it runs down the sides into the bottom. Decanters will usually have a larger base allowing more air to reach the surface of the wine.
Younger wines will actually be more affected by the decanting process than older wines. This is because the air in the younger wines have not had as long to help develop the full flavor and aroma that would typically occur in an older bottle of wine.
Some things to remember with decanting…
When using a decanter, pour the wine in a slow continuous motion until the bottle is emptied into the container. Never empty more than one bottle of wine at a time into a decanter and be sure to rinse it out prior to decanting the next bottle. Do not store the wine in the decanter long term.
The wine glass also has a role in the enjoyment of a fine wine. There are various sizes and shapes to wine glasses. There is a reason for this. The shape of the glass will help focus a wine flavor or aroma. A red wine should be poured into a larger glass with a more bulbous bowl. This will allow more air to reach the surface of the wine and help it to breath. You might notice as you get toward the end of a glass of wine it has reached a peak flavor and aroma. This is due to its maturing in the glass.
A white wine is served typically in a tulip shaped glass that helps it to more focus its aroma on the nose.
Champagne is served in a taller thin shaped glass to help it retain the bubbles trapped within the wine.
When opening a bottle of wine you should twist the bottle rather than the cork. The main thing to remember when pouring a wine into the glass is that there is a proper level to fill it. You usually want to pour it not more than half way up the glass. This usually leaves the top of the wine at the widest part of the glass allowing more of its surface area to mix with air. This also leaves enough room for the aroma to gather as you take a sip.