How to drink red wine, a guide

June 05, 2017

How to drink red wine, a guide

We want to talk to you about drinking red wine. Did you know that, outside of London, more red wine is consumed in Bristol than anywhere else in the UK?

Having said that, in the UK as a whole we drink more white wine than we do red wine. This surprises a lot of people, as Britain has a long history of importing wines like Bordeaux Claret, South African Shiraz and Spanish Tempranillo. However, with the rise of Sauvignon Blanc and the ongoing love-hate relationship many people have with Chardonnay keeps white wine top of our shopping lists.

Nevertheless, we wanted to share some quick points with you we think everyone should know when it comes to drinking red wine.

Storage

It’s best to store your red wines in a cool place, away from any heating, and out of sunlight. Once you’ve opened a bottle of red it will last 1-3 days, depending on the style (and your patience). You might consider storing the wine in the fridge as this will slow down the oxidisation effect but take it out to warm up a little before serving.

Most red wines you buy today will keep, unopened, for 6 months – 1 year. It depends on the style, grape and producer. Most merchants will be able to guide you as to the best drinking window for your wines. For any wine investments or long-term storage it’s worth sourcing an agent to keep it for you in a temperature-controlled environment.

Decanting and “airing”

While all wines benefit from a bit of exposure to air, you don’t need to decant a vast majority of them. Simply pouring them into your glass will do the trick for most red wines these days. Airing, or decanting, your red wine will allow oxygen to mix with your wine, generally softening the tannins to make it more approachable.

However, as most red wines are “drink now” these days, there are few reds that need decanting for any longer than a half hour – if at all. What’s the best way to know? Pour it, drink it, and see if it’s something you like. If the tannins are a bit bitter or astringent, then leave it for a while and see how it improves. Does it open up after an hour or two? Maybe overnight?

Temperature

Some people mistakenly believe that when they find a wine too acidic or bitter then it’s a case of getting the decanter out. This isn’t really true. Temperature plays a large part in the enjoyment of wine. The colder it is, the more you’ll notice the bitter tannin and the less fruit and acidity you’ll taste. Meanwhile, the warmer a wine is the more fruit you’ll get.

It comes down to balance. Classically we used to say serve red wines at “room temperature”. That was half a century ago when rooms were 12C, while today they’re more likely to be 14-15C with central heating. To avoid serving wine too warm, store it well away from radiators, heating and the kitchen. Somewhere the temperature is most constant is best.

For lighter bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir, Gamay or Feteasca Neagra, you may even consider lightly chilling the wine to bring out more freshness.

The right glass

For some of you this might be a step too far but you’ll be surprised the difference it can make. Many tests have proven that the shape of the wine glass you use will have an impact on the flavour profiles you get from your wine, whether it be pink, red, white, sparkling or sweet.

The Austrian company, Riedel, has made waves in the wine community for its extensive range of wine glasses crafted specifically to grape varieties. Worth a go if you’ve got the wallet for it, but if not then generally a larger, wider bowled glass suits reds better, while narrower glasses are better for white wines.

Picking the right wine

Let’s not forget that the best way to drink red wine is to actually choose a wine you’ll like. We spent over six months sourcing our wine list to make sure we get that job right every time. Our range of red wines come from every corner of the globe, including a wonderful Pinot Noir from English vineyard Sixteen Ridges in Herefordshire.

What’s your top tips for enjoying a good glass of red wine?
Get in touch and let us know!



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