One of my favorite invitations to both extend and receive is, Please stop by for a glass of wine and light conversation. It immediately evokes a pleasant, casual and delicious interval into the otherwise mundane every day.
In keeping with the light invitation, I like to set a table or cart with several varietals to enjoy. You’ll need a few essentials to pull off the offering, which is part of the fun. These ready accessories make even the casual oenophile feel prepared. Decanters, chillers, stemware, bottle collars and coasters all serve a functional purpose while making your presentation interesting.
I was surprised to learn that a large part of enjoying wine actually doesn’t have anything to do with taste, but rather, smell. This is where decanting and glass selection come into play. The good news? It doesn’t need to be complicated, and decanters are beautiful to have in full view.
So which wines do you really need to decant? From young to old, red to white to rosé, most varietals benefit from decanting, even for a few seconds. Fundamentally, decanting serves two purposes: to separate a wine from any sediment that may have formed and to aerate it, allowing the flavors and aromas that were dormant while bottled to expand and breathe.
Now that the vino is ready to enjoy, it’s time to select the right glass. Generally, red wine glasses have a wider, roomier bowl. This exposes more oxygen to the surface of the wine, allowing the full-bodied flavors to open up and show you what they’re made of. Conversely, white wines typically don’t require as much aeration to open up and therefore are fine being housed in a slimmer glass with a smaller rim.
The right temperature is essential for all wines. Chillers keep your favorite vino properly cooled and are especially useful when entertaining alfresco. I prefer an all-purpose ice bucket, which offers flexibility for variations in bottle shape and style. I absolutely adore seeing the beautiful wine labels exposed while chilling in a less restrictive ice bucket. (I think we can all admit to occasionally buying some bottles just for the label!)
Finally, a wine collar or ring ensures there won’t be unsightly drips or stains on your service surface or table linens. They absorb drips that run down the bottle and are available individually or as part of a set. You can monogram a simple silver one or mix and match more intricate materials and designs. You’ll be glad you have them on the occasion your guests opt to serve themselves. So extend the invitation, set the stage and enjoy the feeling that comes with entertaining with confidence and style.