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Tasting Wine

How to Open a Bottle

First, you need a Sommelier knife, which is also called an opener. Place the foil cutter (the knife part of the tool, may also be a sharp cutting disk) under the lip of the bottle. Press against the foil and turn cutter all the way around the top removing the foil. The coiled section of an opener is called “the worm". Place the tip of the worm just next to the center of the cork. The middle of the worm (where there is no metal) should be over the middle of the cork. Press the worm into the cork while you twist the worm until it can't go any further into the cork. Move the lever arm down against the neck of the bottle. Pull up the lever arm firmly. The cork will gently lift up out of the bottle. If the cork resists, hold the bottle between your knees while standing, and pull up on the corkscrew. This should give you extra leverage to remove the cork.


How to Open a Bottle of Champagne or Sparkling Wine

First, remember that your primary goal during all the process is to control the cork and, of course, not to let much of the drink spill. Every bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine (with a few low-end exceptions) has foil wrapped around the outside of the cage. In the old days, some foil was lead-lined to keep mice from eating into the cork of wine, but in modern times you just remove this foil. From this point onward, keep the cork pointed in a safe direction, and keep one thumb on it just in case. Corks can loosen over time, so even if you think you're not ready to pop the cork yet, the bottle may have a different idea. Undo the wire cage. This cage ensures that the cork doesn't pop out of the bottle until you are ready to have it do so. Loosen it gently, being sure to keep a thumb on the cork to prevent unexpected surprises. The cage is off. Hold the cork in one hand (usually under a towel, if you have one), and the base of the bottle in the other hand . Turn the bottle instead of the cork slowly and gently. You want the cork to ease off with a soft "whoof", not with a pop. The cork has just eased off. You have managed to save the bubbles and air from being lost (never mind the Champagne!) and should now quickly pour it out. Slide the towel around to the neck of the bottle for pouring. You can now pour, with or without the towel. If you get experienced, you'll find a quick turn of the bottle when you're done pouring each glass will catch the drops on the edge of the lip. Pour down the sides of the glasses to minimize head in case the bubble waste.


How to Open a Bottle with a Screw Cap

Once seen as a mark of cheap, low-quality wine, screw-cap bottles are gaining more and more support among quality wine-makers as it has a much lower failure rate than cork, and is quick and easy to open without the need for any special tools or particular strength. Wrap your entire hand around the full length of the cap, and twist. The seal will break and you can spin off the top part with ease.


How to Serve Wine

Personal Conditions
It's better not to have eaten before the tasting; the sensation of hunger makes you feel the wine and its aromas more accurately. It is also important not to chew gum or any candy with strong flavor before tasting the wines, as it can totally spoil your sensitivity. Then, the room temperature should be a little bit cooler than normal (around 18 ºC).

Wine Temperature
The temperature of the wine differs according to its color and complexity.
Strong or complex red wines: drink at 17-18 ºC
Young or simple red wines: drink at 14-16 ºC
White and rosé wines: drink at 10-12 ºC
Sweet wines, sparkling and Champagne: drink 8-10 ºC

Then the choice of the glass is important. Its shape as well as its size can contribute a lot to your feelings on one wine.

First, the material. The glass has to be plain and clear. As the appreciation of the color of the wine is extremely important, avoid glasses made from colored or frosted glass, or in opaque material such as silver or pewter. Second, the stem. A long stem lets you swirl the wine more easily, swirling being an essential stage in the tasting process. It is also useful when drinking white or rose, to hold the glass without warming the wine. Third, the base of the glass must be wider than the top. The wide base helps to a better aeration of the wine when swirling. Then, the narrow top catches out the bouquet (see: How to taste wine). Finally, choose a wine glass of a large size. The bowl should be wide enough to allow a sufficient pour to be served and swirled without running out of the glass.

Detergent residues or grease can affect the flavour of the wine and reduce bubbliness of sparkling wine, so you should wash glasses with very hot water and no detergent, rinse them thoroughly and air-dry. Store them upright so that stale odors aren't trapped.


Decanting brings wine into contact with oxygen, which can open up the flavors. If you are decanting mature red wine, you need to be careful not to pour in the bitter sediment. If you stand the bottle upright for a day or two beforehand, the sediment will fall to the bottom. Then when you pour the wine, pour in a steady motion until the sediment reaches the neck of the bottle. A candle or torch strategically placed so that light shines through the bottle's neck can help you tell when to stop pouring.


How to Taste Wine

There is no 'right way' or 'wrong way' to taste wine. But taking steps to understand the wine - learning the wine's background, appreciating the color and aromas, and savoring the full range of flavors that the wine has to offer - can help you enjoy wine to the greatest possible extent.

Look at the Label

The label can tell you a great deal about the wine and the intentions of the winemaker - the age of the wine, the alcohol content, the type of grape used, and the area where it was produced. Even the design of the label can help you understand the wine more!

Gaze at the Wine

Pour the wine into the glass until the glass is one-third full, and look at the wine against a white backrground so that you can see how the color changes. For white wines, the paler the color, the younger, fresher or more neutral tasting the wine. For red wines, tinges of deep purple may indicate a young wine, brick-red an older wine.

Smell the Wine

Rotate the glass on the table so that the wine swirls and mixes with air, and then bring the glass to your nose and inhale. It's fun to try think of what the aromas are like; can you smell blackcurrants? Passion fruit? Pepper? Sawdust?

Drink the Wine

We recommend a medium-sized mouthful, maybe one third of what your mouth can hold. Breathe through your nose for a few seconds, then draw a little air through your lips and through the wine, helping the scents of the wine reach the back of your nose. Your tongue can sense the wine's acidity and sweetness, and your nose the aromas and personality of the wine. Let the wine move around your mouth a little, and then swallow (or spit, if you want to taste several wines without getting drunk!) Did the wine's flavour change while it was in your mouth?


How to Store Wine

Certain things can affect wine adversely when it is in storage. Try to keep your wine cool  (10-15°C) and away from strong light. Make sure there are no vibrations or strong temperature changes where you store your wine. Keep corked wine bottles on their side so that the cork doesn't dry out and let in air. The longer your wine remains in storage, the more careful you have to be.

 After opening, wine will keep fairly well for a couple of days if recorked and kept in the fridge. You can even buy special equipment that withdraws oxygen from the bottle to keep it fresh for longer.