Wine Tips – Shake and Bake

Sacramento, California, where I live, is surrounded by wine country – Amador, El Dorado Hills, Clarksburg. To gain a better appreciation of the fabulous wines that are made in the area, I recently took a series of wine tasting classes at The Wine School aboard the Delta King in Old Sacramento, taught by G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski, Wine Editor for Sacramento Magazine, and the guy in charge of all of the judging of wines at the California State Fair wine competition. The purpose of this prelude is so that when I get completely skewered for suggesting the following, that you know that I didn’t just make them up out of thin air. These are just a few of the tips that our wine expert Pooch recommended. And, if you are about to completely dismiss them as absurd or utterly sacrilegious, I ask that you first give them a try.

Tip #1: The Microwave

Red wine should not be consumed cold, but between 60° to 65°F. It just tastes better that way. But if you open a bottle of red wine and don’t finish it, the best thing to do is to pop the cork back on and put it in the refrigerator, where it can keep for a couple of weeks. When you pull the wine out to drink it later, you can leave it on the counter to slowly come to temperature. Or, you can pour a glass, put it in the microwave, and zap it a few seconds until it warms up a little. Every microwave is different, and depending on how much wine is in the glass, the number of seconds will vary. I suggest starting with 5 seconds and adding 3 second increments until you get there.

Tip #2: Shake that Bouteille

Red wine often needs to come in contact with some air to reduce some of its sharpness. Usually this is accomplished by pouring the wine into a decanter. If you’re drinking a young wine that is just too rough, you can also accomplish the same oxygenation by pouring out 1/2 glass of wine from the bottle, putting the cork back in part way, and shaking the heck out of the bottle. Obviously, you’re not going to do this with a well aged wine that may have some sediment. But if it is a young wine, sediment shouldn’t be a problem, and it’s the young wines that typically need this air.

Bonus Tip: Wine Ice-cubes

How do you keep your glass of white wine cool on a hot summer day? If you know what wine you will be drinking in advance, you can use an ice cube tray to freeze some of the wine into wine-cubes. Just add them to your glass of wine.

11 Comments

  1. kalyn

    I often open a bottle of red wine and drink a glass or two, then put the rest in the fridge, so I love the tip for putting it in the microwave. Now why didn’t I think of that! So logical.

  2. Mark

    My wife routinely adds an ice cube to her wines, red or white. I think it’s time to get those “wine cubes” going. Also, we use those rubber vacuum wine bottle “corks” (with the little pump to remove air) from bottles we don’t finish. We don’t, however, refrigerate the reds.

  3. Amateur Wino

    You’re right – red wine should be drunk at “room temp” but when that particular piece of advice was created room temp was around 60-65 degrees. So if room temp is actually 70-75 (which seems more common these days) you are actually drinking the wine too warm and 20 minutes in the fridge would do it good. As far as putting it in the microwave – not anything I would ever do to wine but to each their own.

    Regarding the temperature, agreed! I’ve clarified the notes. ~Elise

  4. Scott

    If you have left over wine – obviously you didn’t invite enough people.

  5. lgbtech

    It’s always been my understanding that red wines are best at ‘cellar’ temperature, which is somewhere in the vicinity of 50 degrees F, somewhat cooler than room temperature but much warmer than refrigerated. Of course most folks these days don’t have a wine cellar so they opt for room temperature instead.

    The wine ice cubes are a fantastic idea. I’m definitely going to give that a try.

  6. Tom

    A better way to preserve an opened, but not finished, bottle of red wine is to use a nitrogen gas wine preserver. The one I use, which I get at my local wine store is called ‘Private Preserve’. It costs about $10, but you get lots of uses out of it. It works by eliminating air from the bottle when you re-cork, which elimiates oxidation, which is what spoils the taste of wine. It comes in an aerosol can (which feels empty when you buy it because nitrogen gas is much lighter than air). Squirt a little bit into the open bottle, re-cork and voila!

  7. someguy

    nuking wine is blasphemy . . .

    unless it’s white zin

  8. legant

    An alternative to the wine cube: frozen grapes. Afterall, wine is made from grapes. I usually use seedless green grapes. I got this tip from a vineyard.

    Brilliant! ~Elise

  9. Ben

    When will people stop serving whites too cold, and reds too warm. THINK OF THE CHILDR–I mean the wine.

  10. Tracy

    Loving both the wine cube and frozen grape ideas – thanks! I’m definitely going to try the shake-n-slake thing, too.

  11. Lisa Morgan

    I love the idea of the wine ice cubes! Sometimes I like a cube or two in a white or rose wine. And the shaking tip will come in handy, too. Thanks for the tips.

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