Open, Decant, Serve: How to Serve Wine Like a Pro

Guest post by Angela Aiello. Angela Aiello is the Founder of iYellow Wine Club and iYellow Wine School. She is a young charismatic Canadian who is looked at as a source on all things wine-related. In this post she walks Young Professionals through the key steps to enjoying and entertaining guests with wine that every YP should know. These steps can be used whether you’re out with clients, colleagues, friends, a date, or with your partner in crime.

Most people know how to drink wine (no problem!) but they may not necessarily feel comfortable serving it. While it does seem like a fairly simple task (open, pour and enjoy), there is a bit of an art to serving wine – including how to properly open the bottle and show your good taste off.

How to Open a Bottle of Wine
Most wines are fairly simplistic to open. Some only require you to twist and serve (thank you screwcap), but in the majority of cases a corkscrew is required. It’s important to use a corkscrew that you’re comfortable with to show off your confidence. There are a few different kinds but the classic dual lever waiter’s corkscrew is my favourite and that’s what you’ll need for the 3 steps below.

Step #1. Run the knife around the top of the bottle to remove the foil.

Step #2. Push the tip of the screw into the cork at 45 degree angle (this allows you to ensure you’ve got it in the centre). Straighten the screw and twist into the cork.

Step #3. Then position the lever against the lip of the bottle and push down causing the cork to be pulled up and out. (Tip: If the cork happens to break try putting your corkscrew back into the bottle on an angle and screwing it in very lightly and then removing it with care.)

How to Open a Bottle of Sparkling Wine
When opening sparkling wine, start by removing the cage (tip: don’t leave the cork unattended). Then keeping your hand on the cork, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle and turn (the bottle not the cork) gently letting out the pressure. Popping the cork out always seems like a fun idea until the cork goes flying and someone gets hurt, so be safe and let the pressure out slowly.

To see a video on this click here.

Decanting Basics
Why: Decanting is an easy way to age a wine very quickly. Wine needs to be exposed to oxygen in order to fully develop to its flavour potential. Another reason people decant wine is to separate the sediment (small crystal particles that form during the aging process) from the rest of the wine.

How: To decant your wine you’ll need a glass decanter, such as this Riedel Swan Decanter ($449, that I love. Winners and HomeSense are also great places to find one. After following the steps for opening above and removing all packaging from around the neck, slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Allow to breathe for 30-60 minutes prior to serving.

If you’re decanting an old or really full-bodied red wine to separate sediment, place a tealight candle under the neck of the bottle as you pour into the decanter. This way you’ll be able to see the sediment separating.

What: Most red wines can benefit from decanting. There is no real need to decant light bodied red wines (such as some Pinot Noir). You can also decant big, bold chardonnays.

Serving Temperatures
Be sure to serve your wine at the right temperature:

* Sparkling wine: serve very chilled (7 degrees)

* All white wine except chardonnay: serve chilled (10-12 degrees)

* Chardonnay: best served just mildly chilled (14-16.5)

* Most reds wine: a little below room temperature (16-18 degrees)

Learning to open a bottle of wine like a pro and understanding why people decant wine are two very important steps in developing your wine confidence. And by applying these tips you now know how to make a $15 bottle of wine taste like it’s a splurge bottle. Don’t worry I won’t tell.