How to Get the Most Out of Any Bottle of Wine - Our Golden Rules

Is it really necessary to spend a small fortune to invest in a bottle of pure pleasure? Not at all – don’t ever let anyone make you think quality wine has to cost the Earth…especially when buying wines online.

We’ve been in the wine business for quite some time now and over the years it’s become apparent that quality standards in general are improving all the time. It’s perfectly possible to spend comparatively little and still end up with a great bottle of wine to enjoy with friends, pair with your favourite foods or even store away for a rainy day.

What we’ve also learned over the years is that really enjoying a bottle of wine means understanding a few simple rules and guidelines. After all, it takes a complicated and precise scientific process to make the wine in the first place – you can’t expect it to be as easy to handle as a bottle of mineral water!

We’re always looking for any and every opportunity to share what we know with newcomers to the wine world – we genuinely care about your enjoyment. That’s why we’ve put together a quick list of our top-pick golden rules to follow in order to ensure that whether you buy red wine from us or wine by the case from anywhere on the web, you get most out of the experience.

Whether you spend £10, £50 or £500 on a bottle, bear the following rules in mind and you’re on the right tracks:


1 – White Wine Should NOT be Stored in the Fridge

Seriously? White wine, not in the 'fridge? It’s a common misconception that white wine should be stored in the fridge which of course stems from the fact that it’s usually best when served cold. The longer a bottle of white wine is kept at a temperature that is far lower than it would be naturally, the more the taste and aroma wine are affected…and not in a good way either! Therefore the golden rule is to only ever chill the wine for a few hours at the most before opening it.


2 – Ice Water Chills Faster Than the Fridge

If you need to chill your white wine in a hurry don’t go sticking it in the freezer or settling for lukewarm wine that won’t pleasant to drink. Instead, fill a container with cold water, add plenty of ice and use this to chill the bottle – from room temperature to ideal drinking temperature in no more than half an hour and usually less!


3 – To Warm Red Wine, Forget the Bottle

There’s nothing worse than an ice cold bottle of red wine when you could really do with serving it in a hurry. No problem, simply use hot water to warm the wine glasses themselves or the decanter, dry thoroughly and then pour in the wine. This will gently warm the wine to room temperature in no time at all. Cupping the bowl of the wine glass in your hands will also help to raise the temperature of the wine.


4 – Don’t Waste Champagne by Opening Incorrectly

Sure it’s tradition to see half your bottle of champagne fly all over the room when opening it, but if you’ve spent a fair bit of money on it chances are you’d rather it stay where it’s put. Opening champagne properly means opening at a 45-degree angle, grabbing the cork with one hand and twisting the BOTTLE with the other – it’s so much easier than the other way around. Alternatively using some specially designed champagne pliers makes the whole thing a breeze. At The Cardinal's Cellar the thought of wasting good champagne is actually painful to us!


5 – Broken Corks Should be Pushed In

If the cork breaks in the neck of the bottle, if can be tempting to try and hack away at it until it comes loose – this is a great way of ending up with a million and one bits of cork floating in your wine. A better option is to push the cork into the bottle instead, then decant the whole lot at once into a jug or another bottle. If pieces of broken cork have made it into the wine then simply use a clean strainer to filter them out as you decant the wine. Ideally though this decanting funnel and strainer is what every wine-lover should have.


6 – Reds Can’t be Rushed

A good red wine needs a good bit of time to breathe after being poured before it reaches its peak – rush reds and you’ll be selling it short. Using a glass jug or decanter is a good idea to allow more oxygen to reach the wine, or if you’ve neither to hand be sure to use glasses with a large bowl, pour sparingly and swirl thoroughly. The oxygenation process allows the wine to open up fully revealing its qualities. A wine aerator really speeds up the process and is especially recommended for young red wines that you just can't wait to leave to develop. There's even a deluxe wine aerator that really looks the part too.


7 – Favour Frugality

It’s always tempting to keep pouring until the glass is nearly full – you’ll certainly look generous anyway – but in reality you shouldn’t ever fill a wine glass to more than a third. This is to allow it plenty of room for the flavours to develop and the oxygen to work its magic.


8 – Seal the Deal

If you threw the cork away in the heat of the moment and now want to save some of the wine for the next day, a great substitution is a cling film secured with a rubber band or two. Of course, it’s a good idea to invest in a few wine bottle stoppers just in case this happens - this VacuVin Pump with Stoppers is a very good yet inexpensive investment..


9 – Break the Rules

And I know we’ve already covered the point of not keeping wine in the fridge, but once the bottle has been opened that is exactly where you should keep it. Once opened, oxygen reacts with the wine and it begins to go bad – cold temperatures slow the process and keep it fresher for longer.


10 – Poor Pairing

And finally, if you don’t have the ideal wine to pair with any given food, don’t bother opening a bottle at all. A poor wine pairing can completely ruin the enjoyment of both the wine and the meal at the same time – both of which would have been quite beautiful if enjoyed separately. It’s a bit like serving a roast dinner with custard…best not to bother and eat them at different times!