Selecting, tasting and serving

Enjoying a glass of California wine is easy to do, but there are a few tips that are sure to enhance your experience. Try these recommendations for selecting and savoring a California wine that suits your taste.

Selecting

There are three simple ways to select and purchase wines:

Go with what you know.
There’s nothing wrong with buying another bottle of a beloved wine. You know you’ll enjoy it, and if you’re entertaining, you know your guests will, too.

Live a little.
California has so much variety that it’s easy to find a new favorite wine. Start with a varietal you like and try it from a different California region, or start with your favorite region and try a new varietal or blend.

Ask for help.
Develop a relationship with one or more retail stores that specialize in California wine. A knowledgeable retailer or wine section specialist who knows your taste and price range can guide you to some great bottles.

Tasting

Wine tasting is a sensory experience. That’s why we use the four S’s as our guide: see, swirl, sniff and sip.

See the color and clarity of the wine as you regard it in the glass.

Swirl the wine in the glass to release the distinctive aroma of the grape variety.

Sniff the wine by bringing the glass to your nose. The nose makes literally thousands of discriminations. Try describing the aromas to your friends.

Sip the wine and hold it in your mouth. Gently draw air through your teeth to direct aromas to the nasal passages. Note any tartness or sweetness. Four sensations - sweet, sour, bitterness and salt - are all perceived through taste. Temperature, tannins (astringency) and the effervescence (bubbles) of sparkling wines are also experienced through the sense of touch in the mouth.

Serving

There are only two hard-and-fast rules when serving wine: don’t spill it, and don’t swill it! A fine wine is made to be enjoyed in moderation.

Serving temperatures

Sparkling wines are traditionally chilled to 45°F (7°C) or lower to slow the release of bubbles and encourage the fruit aromas to linger. Rosés, with their lower alcohol levels, taste better chilled. Dessert wines reveal their unique personalities when served at temperatures similar to those of red wines 55° to 65°F (13° to 18°C).

Red wines reveal their richness when served at cooler room temperatures of 55° to 65°F (13° to 18°C). When it's warm inside or out, you can place the bottle in the refrigerator for a short time, but don’t let the wine get too cool- cold red wines can taste excessively tart.

White and blush wines taste best chilled 45°F to 55°F (7° to 13°C), but not too cold. When wine is too cold, its aromas and flavors are harder to enjoy.