Read an Excerpt
The Proper Handling of Wine
Countless people have discovered the fascination of wine in the past few years, experimenting with different wines, visiting wine-growing regions, and no longer waiting for Christmas or Easter to open a bottle. The loveliest drink in the world has become an essential element of their lives, on a par with music, theater, or literature. Increasingly, they are concerned about the proper handling of wine: how to store it, what sorts of glasses are best for it, how long it should be expected to age. More experience wine lovers may already have discovered answers to these questions. But many of them would like to know still more. This book was written with both kinds of wine lovers in mind.
WineA Practical Guide shows you how to take care of wine for maximum enjoyment. How to avoid breaking a cork. Why people call a capsule a “lead” capsule even though it may be made of tin. What it means when mold has formed under a capsule. What sediment is. Which corkscrews work best. Why the formation of bubbles in the glass is a reason for complaint in a red wine but not in a white. What can happen if a Champagne is exposed too long to light, and how to hold a Champagne bottle when opening it so that it doesn’t gush out.
Whenever I have eaten in a restaurant in the past few years, I have quietly watched what goes on with the waiters and sommeliers and made notes. How do they quickly chill a wine? How do they warm it up if it has come up from the cellar too cool? And whenever wine collectors have invited me to visit their cellars, I have quizzed them about their experiences with vertical and horizontal storage, about raised corks, and about how they prevent the temperature in a wine cellar from fluctuating too much. When sampling wines with vineyard owners, we have compared the taste of a wine served from the bottle with that of the same wine from a carafe and learned that you should not only decant certain red wines but also certain white wines.
Such instructive conversations have helped convince me of the need for this book, as did a number of disappointing experiencesespecially in restaurants: red wines served too warm, white wines ice-cold, glasses filled to the rim. Many restaurants are still somewhat unaware in their treatment of wine. Others exploit the ignorance of their guests, serving a red wine in a glass intended for white wine and refilling it so quickly that you scarcely have a chance to savor it let alone process the alcohol. There are also plenty of wine lovers who don’t have the foggiest notion about how to serve wines properly. Some go about it with antiquated ceremony, others with excessive caution.
And here’s something else. Anyone who drinks fine wines needs more than one corkscrew. This book lists the various useful gadgets you will need if you decide to take wine seriously, from a capsule cutter to an aroma stopper, from a carafe holder to the computer software that will help you manage your wine cellar. Epicures may sneer at some of these accessories, but wine professionals do not find them silly at all.
That is how it is with wine. There are no simple truths. Opening a bottle, serving the wine, and tasting itthis is all simple enough if you have the perfect wine merchant coaching you every step of the way. If you don’t, you need to learn on your own how to take care of the loveliest drink in the world.