Serving wine can be intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. If you don’t know your Pinot Noir from your Pinot Grigio, fear not: there are some quick ways to become more adept at serving wine. We sat down with Brian Smith, chief wine officer of Winc, to bring you pro tips that’ll help you impress on Valentine’s Day, be it for a years-old partner or a first date. Watch our video with Brian here, and read below for his seven expert tips.
1. Progress from light to dark. Starting with a light white wine wakes up your palate. When the food comes out, switch to bigger red wines.
2. Get the right glass. A Chardonnay or Sirah glass is a great catch-all glass, but to really enhance flavor, pair the wine with the glass. A Pinot Noir glass is designed with a big bowl that tapers in at the top, which allows the aromatics to flow right to your lips. A white wine or Bordeaux-style glass has a wider mouth to allow alcohol to blow off.
3. Pour it right. Pour from the right side with the label facing your guest. Twist the bottle up and away as you finish, which will keep wine from dripping onto the table (or your date).
4. Serve the right amount. Pour until the wine reaches the point where the glass bows out (or until your guest says “when”).
5. Give your wine a stir. If the wine has been sitting, gently swirl from the stem to “wake up the wine and re-invigorate the aromatics.
6. Hold your glass right. If you have a stem, use it — holding your glass at the bowl will heat up your wine. No one likes lukewarm wine.
7. Pair light with light and power with power. Light wines go best with light dishes; a Pinot Noir goes well with herbacious flavors like mushrooms. Bigger reds like Cabernets will go best with a marbled ribeye; the grit and tannins counteract the fat and lifts flavors.