Serving wine at table is not an obvious and common practice and, indeed, in case it is done by inexperienced people or with too much care, it can cause embarrassing moments and bad figures with one's guests.
Today there is an etiquette of precise rules that have been codified during decades of experience by sommeliers and wine professionals.
Whether you are at a convivial dinner with friends, at a family lunch, or at a romantic meeting, here is a short vademecum of advices to know what you must do in order to serve wine correctly at table, avoiding mistakes and distractions.
Obiviuosly, After having chosen and taken your bottle of wine from the refrigerator or directly from the cellar, bring it to the table keeping it in an upright position and making its label clearly visible to everyone. Diners should always know the name of the wine, the cru (that is the single grape variety from which the wine was produced, if any), the vintage and the producer.
In case you want to show all your competence, you can also do your best to give more details by describing the varieties used, the vinification process, the aging process or its alcohol by volume.
Wine etiquette dictates that the presentation of the bottle of wine should be done on the left side of your guests, and then it should be served in the glass from the right side, starting from women and then from men, in order of age or importance; the last person to receive the wine is always the host.
The correct opening of a bottle of wine starts by cutting the capsule using the knife of the corkscrew.
Avoid making too many cuts in a disorderly way, cut only three times the material used to make the capsule by making a first clean cut around the neck of the bottle, in a clockwise direction; proceed with a second clean cut in an anticlockwise direction, in order to complete the incision; finish this operation by making a third cut from the top to the bottom, from the cork to the incision made on the neck, trying to make precise and deep cuts, in this way it will be much easier to permanently remove the foil; it will be enough to insert the blade of the corkscrew under the covering of the cork and this will be removed very easily.
Remember during this first operation it is important to keep the bottle firm and steady, without tilting it too much.
Once the capsule has been removed, insert the tip of the spiral of the corkscrew into the cork. Even this step is very delicate because you must be careful not to let the tip come out from the opposite side of the cork in order to avoid cork fragments from falling into the wine.
At this point, place the lever of the corkscrew on the edge of the bottle and gently pull the cork out in order to avoid cracks and noises.
When the cork is almost completely out of the neck of the bottle, end its extraction with your hand and, subsequently, clean the neck of the bottle with a napkin in order to remove any possible residual and bring your nose near the cork in order to look for any possible defect; once this analysis is done, proceed to serve the wine avoiding to let any drop fall on the tablecloth.
How to open a bottle of sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine bottles differ from the above mentioned procedure because of the presence of the mushroom-shaped cork. In case of birthday parties or New Year's Eve dinners, it is customary to "make a bang" by letting the cork free in the air. In some contexts or particular situations it is better to avoid this behavior because the cork could cause damages to the furniture or to the chandeliers of your house, or could cause wounds to the face of some of your guests.
After having removed the capsule and the cage, use your thumb to keep the mushroom secured to the bottle. Then hold the cork with your left hand and with the other hand tilt the bottle of wine by 45 degrees, and then rotate it gently while gently releasing the cork.
The serving temperature of wine.
Every wine must be served and tasted at the right temperature because this temperature can influence the capacity of distinguishing and appreciating the different perceptions, aromas and sensations that the wine emanates.
The range of serving temperatures is very wide and diversified and goes from 6 - 8°C for sparkling wines, to 18 - 20°C for structured and mature red wines.
Low temperatures tend to exalt the hard sensations of wine, such as sapidity, tannins and in young wines their gustatory freshness.
As a consequence, serving temperature must be gradually increased in more mature white wines, as well as in rose wines and young red wines.
When it comes to an evolved red wine the temperature must be higher in order to exalt its roundness at its best, attenuating tannins and allowing its perfect release of the aromas that make up the wide bouquet of that particular glass.
Another factor to be taken into consideration is the fact that in summertime or in hot environments, the temperature of the wine in the glass tends to rapidly increase of a couple of degrees whereas the one in the bottle increases of about 4 - 5° C every hour. Just for this reason, in the moment wine is served at table, the temperature should be a little lower than the ideal temperature of tasting.
Both red wines and white wines must be uncorked few minutes before in order to allow the wine to oxygenate. Smell the cork, in case the cork has gone bad you will immediately smell it and this is an important first sign to make you understand that your wine will probably smell of cork.
Proceed with tasting the wine by serving two fingers of it in your glass; in case there are no defects, before serving the wine, you can "dress" the glasses of your guests.
In order to do this operation, pour a finger of wine in the first glass, rotating it in order to wet its sides uniformly, empty the content in the second glass while rotating the glass you are emptying in order to wet with wine all its inner sides as well, and so on until you have wet the last glass which will be emptied in the bucket or in your sink.
This will allow the removal of bad smells that may have been left on the glasses in case they have not been properly washed, or in case they have not been used for a long time.
Now, you just have to try!