Sean Summers is the owner operator of Calistoga Wine & Spirits. Sean’s lineage in the liquor busines. Wine Madison, MS, Wine Jackson, MS - Sean Summers is the owner operator of Calistoga Wine & Spirits. Sean’s lineage in the liquor business began in the 1980’s with his grandfather Ellis Saik. Liquor Store, Jackson MS, Madison MS, Wine Madison, MS, Jackson, MS, Wine Madison, MS, Wine Jackson, MS, Wine Madison, MS, Wine Jackson, MS



Wine 101

Serving and Pouring Wine

Temperature. The temperature of wine when you serve it has quite an impact on the taste of the wine.   Young – or inexpensive – wine will not be as good at warmer temperatures, while mature and more expensive wines expand at warmer temperatures.

The proper serving temperature for red or fortified wines is 57 to 68 degrees – not “room temperature” as you may have heard.

The proper serving temperature for White wine is 48 to 58 degrees; Rose wine is 48 to 54 degrees, and Sparkling wine is 42 to 54 degrees.

A bottle of wine will cool 4 degrees for every 10 minutes in the refrigerator. If you need to chill a bottle of wine quickly, put it in the freezer for 30 to 35 minutes.

As the wine sits on the table during a meal, expect it to warm at the rate of 4 degrees every ten minutes. The overall room (or outside) temperature may impact the speed.

Decanting. Decanting simply means pouring the wine from the bottle into some other container before serving.  Decanting can be necessary for older wines that contain sediment. For other wines, decanting can improve aeration.  If you prefer a decorative decanter to the wine bottle for aesthetic reasons, decanting will not “damage” the wine.

If you are decanting an older wine that has sediment in the bottle, allow the bottle to stand upright for a moment, which will allow the sediment to sink. Then slowly pour the wine into the decanter, keeping the bottle angled.  If desired, you can also strain the wine through cheesecloth.  If you are decanting wine for a dinner party, complete the decanting process out of your guests’ sight.

Pouring. Cut the foil off the bottle, just below the rim. Remove the cork, taking care not to bend it or break it.

Pour about one ounce into your glass.  This will give you the chance to inspect the color and taste of the wine.

Sparkling wines should be poured against the side of the wine glass, to preserve the bubbles.

All other wines should be poured toward the center of the glass.

Fill each glass no more than two-thirds full, to allow room for swirling, appreciating the aroma and studying the ‘legs’ of the wine.

To control drips as you pour, twist the bottle slightly as you tilt it upright.

Wine Glasses. The shape of the glass can affect the taste of the wine – so different wines have different preferred glasses.

White wine. Typically tulip shaped.

Red wine.  Typically larger in size than white wine glasses, with a more rounded shape. The larger size allows more wine to come in contact with the air.

Sparkling wine. Tall and thin flutes, to enhance the effervescence.

A good all-purpose wine glass should have a 10-ounce capacity and be transparent.


Tasting Wine.

Tasting wine is easy, fun, and entirely a matter of opinion.

Certainly, there are those who make a living tasting wine, who have the ‘refined palette’ mentioned in gourmet magazines, who can describe wines in terms so technical they almost sound like chemists, instead of like wine aficionados. And these people are very handy to have around – to make suggestions and to write reviews on wine.

But for most of us, tasting wine is about enjoyment.

Tasting wine employs three of your five senses:  sight, smell and taste, and it is the interaction of all three senses that makes wine unique. So relax and prepare to really consider what you taste when you taste wine.

     Sight. The eyes.

Look at the wine.  Its color (called the robe) will give you clues about the age of the wine and its origin.

Hold the wine glass by the stem, against a white background – a piece of paper or a tablecloth.

Swirl the wine around in the glass, and observe how quickly the liquid flows back down the sides of the glass when you stop.  If the wine droplets fall quickly down the side, the wine is lighter and holds less alcohol.  If the wine forms streaks down the inside of the glass that hold for several moments, that indicates a higher alcohol and/or sugar content.  The streaks – called ‘legs’ – are your first indication of the power of the wine.

Now consider the color of the wine.

White wines range in color from green to yellow. More color will typically indicate more age and more flavor. But beware, because while time improves red wine, it can actually ruin white wine.

Red wine color can range from a pale red to a deep brownish red. In red wine, expect the color to lighten as it ages. Tilt the glass of red wine slightly and look at the edge of the wine – a purplish tint could indicate a young wine, while an orangish or brownish tint indicates a more mature wine.

     The nose.

Sniff the wine as soon as it’s poured. Don’t be shy - position your nose inside the rim of the glass –that’s the best way to shut out other scents and focus on the wine’s aroma. The primary aromas will give you some general characteristics of the wine.

What do you smell?  Fruit? Flowers? Minerals? Spices? Oak?

Now swirl the wine around in the glass – this infuses air into the wine, and causes the wine to release more aroma. Inhale the wine’s aroma again. Resist taking a sip for a moment, and consider -  what do you smell?

Wine experts describe the wine’s aroma in these terms:

Fruit – red fruits for red wines, white fruits for white wines
Floral – lily, orange blossom, violet
Vegetable – asparagus, olive, green pepper
Spices – cinnamon, cloves, saffron, black pepper
Earth – green grass, chalk, flint, minerals
Grains and Nuts – almond, hazelnut, biscuit, toasted bread
Barrel – vanilla, oak, toast

Where do the scents come from? The smell of fruit comes directly from the grapes, while the more organic aromas, like wood or vanilla, come from the barrels in which the wine was aged.  The more complex scents develop in the bottle – due to the chemical changes that occur.

     The mouth.

Finally, you’re ready to taste the wine. Take a small sip – about one-third of an ounce. You want the sip to be large enough to work it around your mouth, but not so large that it will force you to swallow right away. Roll the liquid around your mouth to let all your taste buds help detect the subtle flavors. 

What’s your first impression?

As you swirl the liquid around in your mouth, draw in some air into your mouth too.  Consider the body of the wine, and its texture in your mouth. 

Is it light? Smooth? Rich? 

If the body of the wine resembles water in your mouth, you can consider it light bodied. If it feels more like milk, consider it full-bodied.

After you’ve swallowed the wine, notice the aftertaste – the finish. How long does the aftertaste last? What flavor does the wine leave you with?

Now that you’ve tasted the wine, you’ve formed some impressions. Take a moment to make a note of the wine, the wine producer and the vintage (year). Then add your impressions and give yourself some indicator of whether you would buy the wine again.  As you taste more and more wines, you’ll find your tasting notebook a handy reference guide.

Finally, it’s time to ‘cleanse the palate’ and prepare for the next taste.  Unsalted crackers or plain French bread are excellent choices, along with a sip or two of water.

If you are tasting several wines, be sure to rinse the wine glass between tastings.



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