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Selecting wine for meals<
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Wine information > Selecting wine for meals
Selecting wine for meals
The following table will show at a glance with what foods the various wines are served. Wine should be served 'at the temperature of the room,' should not be put in the fender, but stood up, with the cork out, in the dining-room some time before dinner. If there be a fire the bottle (or the decanter if the wine be already
decanted) may be put on the mantelpiece, but not nearer the heat than that.
Wines & When to Serve Them
Dry Pale Sherry
The aforegoing table outlines the Wines, etc., to be served for
dinners, etc., on state or formal occasions. For informal dinners
it is frequently the practice to serve only one wine throughout-
Claret, Burgundy, or Champagne.
* Serve at cool temperature or 'off the ice ' in summer.
** Serve at temperature of room.
In general, still white wines should be served with oysters and fish. Red wine with roasts. Sweet wines, such as Sauternes, are good with any bird.
A good wine should never be served with a salad or any other dish that has been seasoned with vinegar or sugar.
If, say, two Clarets are served at any one sitting, the youngerwine should be drunk before the older. It is most important to avoid drinking the Burgundies and Clarets with their high proportion of tannic acid, the wines fortified with spirit, and a fortiori, spirits themselves, with oysters or any shellfish. These liquors protect such food from the dissolving action of the digestive juices, with results that may be extremely inconvenient.
There are three factors to be considered in the scientific examination the wine, the taster, and circumstances which surround him. For the wine there are its colour, its clearness, its bouquet. The taster's capacity of appreciation depends upon his ancestry, age, sex, education, temperament, health, and mood. The variation in delicacy of sensation produced by a particular wine upon all these factors in the taster is a mere matter of mathematics to be reduced to a table of formula.
How should wines be drunk at dinner?
The great principle is to have a crescendo of effect upon one's sensory apparatus. For this reason the stronger wines should be kept till the last first, because the weaker wines seem even weaker after strong ones, and, secondly, because as the dinner progresses one's sensibility diminishes. It would therefore be heresy to drink port
after soup, as that would kill all the wines that followed. It would also be an error to end a meal with dry champagne.
According to some, the proper order of wines at dinner should be Chablis or Pouilly, with oysters and fish; with the entree, Beaujolais, light Burgundy, or Bordeaux; with the roast, and above all with game, the grands cru's should be chosen, a chateau wine, a Vougeot or a Chambertin. With roast veal Beaune or Pommard should be drunk, or perhaps dry Champagne. Champagne, sweet or demi-sec, should be taken with dessert, and before coffee a glass of port in the English fashion. Afterwards, Cognac or Armagnac.
And, of course, you cannot appreciate the savours of these wines unless you are deliberate and elegant in your tasting. The room, the table, the company, the shape and quality of glasses, make a difference; and also, the sound of the names of the wines. Could any liquid bearing such a name as Margaux, Latour, Chambertin, or Clos du Roi, taste wholly ill? Agreed!
As for the temperature, white wines should be a few degrees colder than the room, and in hot weather fullbodied wines may even be iced. Red wines, on the other hand, should have had time to take the temperature of the room, a matter of two or three hours, and there is no objection to their being a degree or two above it. But it must be remembered that if wine is at too high a temperature all its finer qualities will disappear, and the particles which it gives off will be so loaded with alcohol that perfume, bouquet, and aroma, will become indistinguishable. The wine-glass should be as thin as possible, so that the wine may be affected by the heat of the hand
without delay, and it should be of a bulging shape, with its opening smaller than its body, so that the perfumed particles given off by the wine may be inhaled, as it were, concentrated through a funnel. The glass should never be much more than half full, and the connoisseur will begin by tilting it gently, so that his eye may enjoy the varying beauty of its colour as its depth above the glass
changes. Then with the glass steady, he will inhale the bouquet of the wine through his nose, and the appreciative powers of the sense of smell should be assisted by an artifice which will be less effective if the wine has been decanted. The base of the glass should be held between the thumb and the first finger, and a rotatory movement of gradually increasing speed given to the liquid. This movement assists the vaporization of all the volatile
principles in the wine and brings a larger surface of it in contact with the air. A good wine offers a complete scale of perfumes, varying in delicacy, subtlety, and power. The expert alone can distinguish accurately between his sensations and describe them by comparison with those caused by more familiar odours. The warmth of the hands will be applied until the perfect temperature has been reached.
Finally, it is the turn of the palate, already prepared by what has gone before. The wine should be drunk as birds drink water, in little sips, to be rolled attentively round the tongue, for each part of the tongue has its own special sensibility. Before swallowing, the lips should be pursed up and a little air drawn in to mingle with the wine, now at the same temperature as the mouth. This action will be rewarded by a new series of perfumes. It is important that the wine should not be allowed to stand long in the glass before it is taken, and the true gourmet knows that his taste is best in the morning when he is fasting. Violent exercise is disastrous to the taste, and there should be no noise or conversation to distract and hamper that mental concentration which is necessary if the full beauty of a great wine is to be felt and appreciated.'