The Perfect Serve
Interest in wine continues to grow, with customers increasingly willing to pay a premium for quality. While this is great news for the on trade, it also means that to meet customer expectations the wines you stock and serve have to be selected carefully and served correctly. John Mansfield of The Society of Vintners is pleased to share his top tips for both storing and serving wine, so that your customers experience the perfect serve…
If you ask a room full of drinkers how wines should be served, my bet is that the vast majority will say that white wines are served chilled and red wines at room temperature. Now that isn’t necessarily wrong, however, there is so much more you can do to ensure maximum customer enjoyment.
The first thing that has to be considered is how and where you should store your wine, prior to bringing them to the bar for sale.
How to store
If you are serious about storing and serving your wines in the very best condition, the answer is a refrigerated wine store. These range in size and complexity from a single temperature stand alone unit, to a multi temperature system that will enable you to store whites, reds, ports and Champagnes together.
If you don’t want to go that far, then try to follow these simple rules:
•Aim for a constant temperature – 11-14°C (52-57°F) is ideal – wine is badly hurt by fluctuating temperatures. A dry cellar is perfect
•Never get above 25°C – your wines will start to oxidise, and become irreversibly damaged
•Wine is best stored in the dark – avoid exposure to sunlight and fluorescent light. A cupboard is ideal
•Move your wine bottles as little as possible – vibration and vigorous movement can spoil wine
•Do not store with anything that has a strong smell – corks become tainted and pass the smell onto the wine
•Keep the area well ventilated – musty odours can be transmitted to the wine through the cork
•Keep humidity levels under 70% – excess humidity allows mould to grow and wine labels to loosen and deteriorate. If things are getting damp – ventilate!
•Store bottles on their sides – keeping the cork in contact with the wine stops the cork from drying out, which lets air in
Having spent the time and effort to store your wines correctly, it’s now time to make sure they’re served with the same care, and attention. While selecting the appropriate glass and pouring the wine correctly are important, the critical element in serving is wine temperature.
Your customer should be presented with a glass of wine at a temperature where they can smell and taste the full flavour and aroma. As a general rule, white wines and Champagnes should be served chilled, and red wines should be given time to ‘breathe’ at room temperatures. However, this isn’t always the case, as a dry red wine can benefit from being slightly chilled and a sweet white should be served slightly warm.
Start with the basics
•Serve red wines at between 12 and 18°C; white wines between 8 and12°C and dessert wines and Champagnes at 5 to 7°C
•Red wines benefit from being uncorked at least 30 minutes before serving, more if it’s a big red like a Barolo. Even better – decant the red. It’s great theatre and getting air and temperature into the wine really opens up the flavours
•If you need to quickly chill wines, submerge the bottle in a mixture of water and ice. Once it’s cold enough take the bottle out and use a wine cool sleeve or half filled ice bucket to keep the wine chilled, however, not so cold all flavours and aromas are deadened
•If serving wines by the glass and you want to store half finished bottles between servings, invest in technology. The Vacu Vin pump is a cheap and effective option, as are clip on Champagne stoppers. Operators handling fine wines should invest in a more sophisticated system