Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wine Disaster: Poor Serving Practices

It happens too frequently, people go out for a nice dinner in a restaurant and order a nice wine to compliment the meal and then,  suddenly, everything goes bad when the wine improperly served.

It happened last evening and was reported to Wine 4 Your Life by a loyal reader. 

The restaurant was a popular upscale Asian chain. The wine was a nice Napa Valley, California, Sauvignon Blanc, which is generally a good choice for Asian foods. This particular wine has a suggested retail of $18 and is probably sold for about $40 in the restaurant. 

Wine violations. Actually there were multiple wine violations. 

Wrong Glass for the Wine
Violation number 1. The first violation is pictured. The wine was served in a champagne flute. Believe it or not, glasses make a huge difference in the taste of wines. The proper glasses deliver the aromatics to the nose in a manner which increases the flavor of the wine. This wine should have been served in a generic white wine glass or, even better, a specially designed Sauvignon Blanc glass.

Violation number 2. Even worse than the wrong glass, the wine was served warm. Just below room temperature. White wines like this are best served well chilled. Well chilled means 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than a refrigerator but much cooler than the room. Temperature is critical to ensuring that the character of the wine is retained. The wines are made to be served at these temperatures. An easy was to serve white wines is to place them in the refrigerator a couple of hours before the intended serving time and about 20 minutes before serving take them out, put them on the counter, and open them. 

Red wines can be served too warm as well. The optimal temperature for red wines is about 65 degrees, just below normal room temperature. When I have been served red wines that are too warm, I order an ice bucket to cool them down to a more appropriate temperature. 

Violation  number 3. The wine glass was warm, as in just out of the dishwasher. This contributed to rapid heating of the wine taking it out of the the optimal drinking zone. Of course, in this case, the wine was already outside that zone, but the warm glass aggravated the problem.

The real problem presented by poorly  served wines is that most people don't know that the character of the wine changes dramatically. Many people, myself included, order wines at restaurants to check out different vintages and winemakers. Ultimately, the winemaker is the one who suffers from a poorly presented restaurant wine. Their product is deemed defective and sales may be lost and reputations damaged.

Wines need to be served properly to be fully enjoyed.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

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