Time to relax, sit back and enjoy a well-deserved glass or two.
You’ve bought the presents, wrapped the presents, sent the cards, done battle with the shops, burnt-out the computer keyboard, melted the mouse and bought enough Brussels sprouts to feed a small army. If anyone deserves a little tipple, you do.
But whatever you have finally decided is a must for this year’s festivities, please always remember to drink responsibly. Drink less, drink better. Less is more, as the old saying goes. Consuming vast quantities of alcohol is not only bad for your health but is a bit outdated. Far better to spend a little time and effort in seeking out a wine which has greater flavour, balance and overall enjoyability, which you can really appreciate in just one glass.
One or two little tips to help you enjoy your Festive wines to the full. Most important, make sure you have the right glass. I don’t mean necessarily going as far as some specialist glass producers, who would have you buying a different glass for every grape variety under the sun, but make sure you have a large enough glass to be able to swirl the wine and release all its wonderful aromas and flavours. Cut crystal looks fabulous, but most are the wrong shape for drinking fine wine – although sometimes you have to compromise for the sake of elegance.
Tulip shapes are good for wine glasses as you can swirl the wine without spilling and the slightly narrowing top holds the aromas in the glass. Don’t overfill the glasses, whether it is still wine, sparkling wine or fortified. Allow the wine to develop in the glass for a fuller appreciation. And on that subject, don’t be afraid to use a decanter. For older wines which may have thrown a sediment, it is a must, together with vintage port, but many wines will also benefit from decanting, which aerates the wine and develops the aromas and flavours.
Another factor in wine appreciation is temperature. All sparkling wines need to be served very well chilled. White wines – dry or sweet – should be served chilled, although don’t serve higher quality whites too cold or the complexity will be muted. The majority of red wines should be served at room temperature- but make sure ‘the room’ isn’t too warm. 20 degrees C is fine, 25 is not, as the wine will lose its fruit, suppleness and balance on the palate. Pinot Noir wines can be served a little cooler, but not fridge cold and not top Burgundy.
There is a wealth of wine out there to try and every year brings more wines and more changes, which makes the wine world so fascinating.
Drink well and have a relaxing festive season.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Follow him on Twitter @richardwje.
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