Monday, November 30, 2009

Buying and Serving Wine Etiquette

If you’re not a wine connoisseur, get advice on buying wine from either a knowledgeable liquor-store owner or a friendly restaurateur. Describe the menu and ask for moderately priced selections. One of my friends simply went to a liquor store and purchased a case of its most costly red Burgundy. The proprietor was thrilled, of course, but the value of the wine was lost on most guests. You don’t need to be extravagant to be elegant. What you need is to be generous and make sure there is enough to go around.
Many parties these days do not have “hard bars,” meaning they do not serve hard liquor. If you are serving only wine, plan on a bottle per person. If you are serving wine only during the meal, plan on half a bottle per person.
Serve red wine at room temperature. To allow the wine to breathe, open the bottle about 30 minutes before you serve it. Opening the wine permits the air to develop the bouquet and improve the taste of the wine.
Chill white wines about two hours before serving them. If you must chill the wine more quickly, the best method is to immerse the bottles in a tub of water and ice cubes up to the neck. It doesn’t help to put the wine in a freezer.
When the meal begins, the host should stand and walk around the table to fill each wineglass. If it’s an informal party, the host can simply fill the glasses of the people closest to him and ask them to pass the other glasses down. The host’s job is to make sure the glasses are replenished. Guests should not help themselves to wine or ask for more. It is fine for a host to offer the wine bottle to a guest with an empty glass and say, “Please help yourself.”
Fill wine glasses about halfway so that the imbiber can appreciate the bouquet of the wine. Don’t wrap your wine bottles in napkins when you serve. Inviting people into your home involves careful planning and considerable effort, but entertaining at home repays many times over. Having guests under your roof provides a special pleasure. And you flatter people by inviting them because you are bestowing a gift that only you have the power to give—the hospitality of your home.

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