Ask Tom – Serving Wine

Dear Tom

Can you give me tips on how to serve wine properly ?

There are a few of things you need think about when serving wine to get the most out of it:


Put simply, white wines should generally be chilled and red wines should be at room temperature.

Too cold and a wine, be it red or white, will lose perfume, fruitiness and acidity. Too warm and it will seem flabby.

To get wines to the right temperature for serving at home, I suggest keeping a clutch of reds in the kitchen for immediate drinking whilst whites can be put in the fridge or slipped inside a “wine-sleeve” depending on how much time you have.


Wine is smelt much more than it is tasted, so the right type glasses can significantly enhance the experience.

They key is to get some bulbous, tulip-shaped glasses and fill them to around 1/3rd full.

Small ISO glasses work well for tasting small samples, but I like to use larger ones for drinking.

Getting the fill-level is actually really important because you can’t smell a wine properly when the glass is full to the brim – this is a real schoolboy error yet a frequent sight in pubs, bars and restaurants.

And Paris goblets are just downright wrong.

Air and Aeration

I frequently find that wines can improve over the course of 24, 48 or even more hours.

This particularly applies to young wines that are meant to be aged for a few years or more.

Wine’s relationship with air is a complex one and there seems to be little research and no consensus on how much air is right, but of all the factors here, air is the only one that is irreversible.

You can change glasses, warm up and cool down a wine, but you can never reverse the effects of air.

To expose a wine to more air immediately after opening, your options are either to put it in a broad bottomed decanter and swirl around or pour it into a bulbous glass and swirl around – or both.

There are no hard and fast rules to any of these areas, but getting some decent tasting glasses, filling them only 1/3rd full, aerating the wine and having it at roughly the right tempertaure should all enhance your drinking experience.

Copyright Tom Lewis 2011

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About Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis is a wine writer and educator from Cambridge with a particular interest in Austria and France. His comments have been published on, Local Wine Events, as well as in the local press in his hometown of Cambridge, UK. When it comes to buying wine, Tom’s philosophy is to buy as close as possible to where it comes from. He writes a regular blog, the Cambridge Wine Blogger which launched in 2009 and is a presenter for the Cambridge Food and Wine Society. To read more of Tom’s work, please check out
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