September 18, 2019

Wine basics: How to correctly store and serve wine

Some people find the complexities of serving wine and pairing it with food intimidating. But you don’t need to be a wine connoisseur to properly enjoy a glass of one of our superb South African wines with your DayToDay dinners. Just being aware of the basics and following general rules about storing and serving wine correctly can elevate your wine game, and help you feel more confident serving wine the right way


No matter how well you serve wine and pair it with food, if you don’t store the bottle correctly prior to drinking your wine can easily be spoilt. Even wine that will only be stored for a few weeks should be stored properly. 

  • Wine should be stored in a cool, dark place – ideally a wine cellar but as most of us don’t have one, a wine rack in a cupboard or dark room will do. A cool, stable temperature is crucial because the cork expands and shrinks if the temperature fluctuates frequently. This can cause the cork can become brittle and the wine may leak or be oxidized.  
  • Keep it still – Wine should not be frequently moved around, so don’t put it on top of the fridge or next to a dishwasher because the vibrations will be detrimental for the quality.
  • Lay bottles on their sides – this keeps the cork moist and prevents oxygen from entering the bottle.

Serving temperature

Correct serving temperature is essential to enjoy the wine’s optimal taste and aroma. In South Africa we tend to serve our white wine too cold and red wine too warm. Red wine that’s too warm tastes alcoholic and sharp, while if white wine is served too cold the flavours and aromas will be suppressed. 

  • Sparkling wine, light white and rose wines should be served at 6-8℃.  
  • Full bodied whites (eg. chardonnay) can be served higher, around 12-14℃. 
  • Red wines should be served at 15-18℃ (Room temperature in South Africa is usually above this).

Breathing and decanting

Red wines are often decanted, meaning the wine is poured from the bottle into another container, the decanter. Older red wines are decanted to remove the sediment at the bottom. Younger red wines are decanted to aerate the wine and then allowed to sit for a while and “breathe” to develop the flavours. 

Choice of glass

There are so many types of glasses to choose from, choosing good quality glasses and using the correct glass for the wine is important to accentuate the wines desirable characteristics.

  • White wine glasses are usually smaller bowl glasses, this helps maintain the cool temperature and preserves their floral aromas
  • Red wine glasses typically have a large bowl with large opening, which allows you to dip your nose inside and smell the aromas. This also increases the surface area of the wine to interact with the air and aerate, this is the same effect as breathing.
  • A champagne flute is the most commonly used and popular for sparkling wine, the tall narrow shape preserves the bubbles and the long stem means your fingers won’t affect the temperature of the wine.