Bartending Basics: Wine Storing and Serving Suggestions

By Ray Foley

As a bartender, there’s no sense serving good wine if you’re not going to do so at the right temperature. If served at a wrong temperature, wine will lose the subtle nuances of flavor that make it so popular.

Wine Type Temperature Range
Full-bodied red wines 65°–68° F
Light-bodied red wines 60°–65° F
Dry white wines 50°–55° F
Sweet red and sweet white wines 42°–46° F
Sparkling wines and Champagnes 42°–46° F

Port is a great after-dinner drink. It also goes well with cheese and cigars. An opened bottle of port has a shelf life of four to six months.

Fino and Manzanilla sherries are usually served chilled as an aperitif. Amontillado is perfect between meals or with soup and cheese. Cream sherry can be served at any time, chilled or over ice.

Champagne and other sparkling wines should be stored in a cool, dark place away from heat, light, vibrations, and severe temperature variations. Unlike the best wines from Bordeaux or California, sparkling wines are ready for consumption when they’re shipped to the market. However, some wine lovers also enjoy cellaring their sparkling wines for a few extra years.

Before serving, chill the wine well, but don’t freeze it. Placing the bottle in a bucket filled with ice and water for 30 to 40 minutes is the best way to chill Champagne.

You can also chill a bottle by refrigerating it for several hours, but don’t keep bottles in the fridge for extended periods of time. The excessive cold and the vibration of the motor will cause the flavor to go a little flat.

Champagne is best served in tall flute or tulip glasses at a temperature of 42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Tiny bubbles will rise in a continuous stream. When serving, pour a small quantity of Champagne into each glass and allow it to settle. Then fill each glass two-thirds full.

You need to refrigerate a bottle of vermouth after opening. The shelf life of an open bottle, when refrigerated, is approximately one year.