Archive for the ‘Serving Wine’ Category

Wine At Right Temperature campaign

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

You may be sick of me carping on about wine temperature, or you may be a staunch supporter of my unfortunately acronymed WART campaign.  Personally I am getting ever more fed up of the ignorance of British bar and restaurant staff bringing me Beaujolais from the wine oven and Chablis from the beer freezer.

But what worries me more is the attitude I get when I ask for a red wine to be chilled.  Replies range from the polite but sardonic “That’s a red wine, sir, it should be served at room temperature” to the downright rude and sneering “You’re wrong, sir, it should be served warm”.

As it is Christmas, I dug out one of last year’s presents, a wine thermometer.  It is quite enlightening to read the instructions and I hope I am not breaching copyright by reproducing them verbatim.

The single most important factor of serving wine at its optimum is the temperature.  The enclosed thermometer will give you an exact reading for you to follow on our guide and eliminate the need for guesswork.  We recommend you serve wine one degree lower than the guide indicates to compensate for the wine glass warming up to room temperature.

16-17°C – Vintage red wines when mature Bordeaux type
15-16°C – Vintage Burgundy type
14-16°C – High quality or vintage red wines still young

14-16°C – Vintage dry white wines
11-12°C – Light fruity or young red wines
10-12°C – Dry and young white wines

10-12°C – New or young red wines
10-12°C – Very fruity rosé wines
8-10°C – Light or local white wines
7-8°C – Champagne or sparkling wine
5-6°C – Sweet or aromatic wines

Whilst you may quibble about some of the individual detail, and I could find a case to change one or two recommendations by a degree or two, the range of recommended temperatures is valid.  When you consider that most restos serve all red wines at 25 degrees and all white wines at 5 degrees Celsius, it is clear there is some education required out there.

By the way, if you don’t own a thermometer, about an hour in my fridge gets a wine down to about 15-16°C.

Now I have had my rant I can get back to the Xmas festivities and a particularly feisty yet lithesome bottle of Riesling.  Can I take this opportunity of wishing you all the highest compliments of the season.  May your food be warm and tasty, and your wine chilled and dandy.

Cornerhouse Grill, Dublin

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

When dining out, one well known restaurant critic makes a point of asking how the tips are distributed, always leaving cash, and encourages readers to do the same.  So I dutifully asked the MO of one waiter at the Cornerhouse Grill and was stunned by his response.

Cornerhouse - on a corner for some reason


The Northern Quarter, Manchester

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I met Rob McIntosh in Manchester, the night before the UEFA Cup Final (Rangers lost 2-0).  Piccadilly Gardens was packed and all the pubs were overflowing with friendly but very pissed Glaswegians.  Fortunately, the Scots had not found the Northern Quarter, an eclectic mix of trendy, funky, bohemian bars, clubs, clothes shops and arty establishments.  Rob had spotted the old fish market earlier and a bar/resto on the other side of High Street confusingly named The Northern Quarter.

Opposite the old Fish Market - photo by Rob McIntosh


A tale of three Armagnacs

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

In deepest Evian-les-Bains I found one of the best wine shops ever.  La Cave à Paul had such a wide range of Armagnacs going back to the year dot.  But they had none from 1964 (year of my birth), so I settled for second best 1966 (last time England won the World Cup).

Aladdin’s Cave (à Paul)

And when I got home I discovered that I had also (sort of) unknowingly bought some duty free Armagnac by Sempé (we flew from Geneva, Switzerland).  It was time for a taste test.  But hang on!  There is more complication because I had also invested in Riedel glasses.  The Cognac glass is a small tulip (on the left of the photo below), whereas a traditional Cognac or Armagnac glass is a bowl (shown on the right).  An interesting experiment was to ensue…. 


Caring For Your Glasses

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Following my recent post on which glasses to drink from I was asked about glass “maintenance”.

There is a supposed cardinal rule with fine wine glasses that you should never use soap.  I ignore this, but do so with care.

Here’s a few practical tips for keeping your wine glasses in tip top condition.


Which Wine Glasses?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

There is a lot of chat in the wine press about the importance of drinking wine from the right glass.  For example, if you have read anything by Robert Parker you will know of his undying affection for Riedel glasses.

Riedel has stolen a march on other stemware manufacturers everywhere by producing several ranges of glasses where within each range, different glasses are specifically designed for different varietals and even specific wines.  This panders perfectly to the ceremony afforded to wine by the pretentious.

Sadly that includes me and I think Riedel glasses are great too, but the problem is the range is so massive, it’s impossible to own them all so what is the essential selection?

So this post is my recommendation for a simple range of wine glasses that will last you through every occasion.

The usual suspects - my entire range of glasses


Corked or Not Corked?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

I’ve been waiting for this to happen so I can blog about it.  I opened a bottle of Clos de Marquis 2001 (after dutifully fridging it for half an hour) only to find it was corked.

Fortunately I had another bottle so opened that and joy of joys – it was perfect.  So what was the difference?

Both bottles are shown in the picture below-  which do you think was corked?

Clos - which one was corked?


Ice Cold in Alastair’s Wine Glass

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

I’ve just been looking at where there is chart suggesting that white wine should be served between 5 and 11 degrees Celsius, and red wine between 12 and 18 degrees (depending on type).  Nearly every wine website and book gives pretty much this advice.

So why does almost every bar/resto serve wine at the wrong temperature then?  Here’s why…