Short manual to choose, uncork and consume wine at home, in the restaurant and in the wine shop

How to choose wine:

To choose the right wine, you will need to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Do I need it for a special occasion?
  2. Would I just like to replenish my cellar?
  3. Is it for a gift?
  4. Do I want to drink it right away or do I have to keep it?

Once you have a clear idea of why you are buying wine, the choice will also be easier.

If you buy it for a special occasion, you will probably have to celebrate something and then there will be no better choice than a good bottle of Champagne or Sparkling Wine, if instead you have to stock up, think about what you usually drink and split your preferences between ready-to-drink wines and wines that deserve or require a few years in the cellar.

If it is a gift, you will have to think about the tastes of the recipient and also it is good practice to choose a known label so who receives it immediately understands the value of the gift unless the recipient is a “wine maniac”, always looking for the unknown label.

If you buy wine to keep it in the cellar, also make sure you have the right place to preserve it. A temperature-controlled wine cellar could work but remember that only those of excellent level are suitable for long storage, the others are good in the short/medium term. If you do not have a wine cellar and do not want to buy one, search the house and look for the coolest and darkest place such as a basement or a pantry (possibly not near detergents!). It is very important that the chosen place has a constant temperature and possibly not higher than 15/18 degrees. Always choose the low positions, close to the floor that will guarantee a lower temperature, as long as you do not have an underfloor heating!

Once the logistical problems have been resolved, collect information, read trade magazines and talk to the wine shop who will be happy to help you with your choice. Tell him what you usually drink or what you would like to get to know and he will help you by explaining various suggestions. Do not be afraid to talk about budget, you will save time and help the salesman.

If you are at the restaurant, consult the wine list (if there is one) and check that it is well written and it has all the information necessary to make a conscious choice. In a wine list must always be indicated: name of the producer, name of the wine, vintage (these are the basic information) then the origin, the grape varieties, the production method and then gradually a whole series of additional information. The wine lists provided on tablets are undoubtedly the most convenient since you can set filters and simplify the search. Once you have identified the type of wine you would like to drink, talk to the sommelier about it and ask for some advice, he will certainly be happy to help you.

Uncorking and consuming wine at home

We assume that you have followed our advice, and your wine is well preserved in the cool basement of your home. Well, at this point, if the wine chosen for the evening is white, you will have to take care to put it in the refrigerator in the morning, in the lower part which is the coolest. If the wine is red, put it on the table shortly beforehand so as to serve it fresh. Always remember that the serving temperature of red wines should never exceed 18 degrees even in the case of important and mature wines. If the wine has been in the cellar for many years, make sure to put it in an upright position at least the day before in order to settle any dry residues in suspension.

If you wanted to drink “bubbles”, it would be great to have an ice bucket or alternatively a Glacette of those to put in the freezer and then apply to the bottle, there is nothing more unpleasant than a lukewarm Champagne.

Now we come to the delicate operation of uncorking. If you are lucky, your wine will have a screw cap. Nothing could be simpler, you will just have to rotate the cap. If the stopper is made of cork, cut the capsule under the widest part of the neck of the bottle, take your corkscrew and insert the “worm” in the center of the cork being careful to go straight vertically and not to pierce the cork all way to the end to prevent cork shavings from getting into the wine. Carefully pull out the cap and smell it to see if everything is ok. Cork not contaminated with the famous “cork smell” must have a good, fresh and fragrant scent. Otherwise, if it smells like a “wet rag” or mold, unfortunately there is a problem with the wine. If the smell of cork is mild, try to aerate the wine for a while but you can hardly remedy it, better open another bottle.

Make sure you have suitable wine glasses at the table. The glass must be of good workmanship, made of light glass and with a stem long enough to allow you to hold it without putting your hands on the bowl. Holding the glass in the part of the bowl, apart from being rude, is also not very appropriate since you would alter the temperature, as well as putting your fingerprints everywhere. So please, always take the glass from the stem regardless of the type of wine you are drinking.

How to taste Wine at the restaurant

Once you have made your choice and given the instructions to the Sommelier, the sommelier will approach you with the chosen bottle tilted so that you can see the label. This practice is necessary so that you can make sure that the wine that will be opened for you is actually the one you have chosen. A quick glance and a nod will start the opening procedure. If you have ordered a white wine, rose or sparkling, make sure that you also get a bucket of ice. Once the bottle has been opened, the sommelier will let the person who ordered it taste the wine. If you want other guests to try it, please let the sommelier know. A minimum amount of wine will be poured into the glass so that you can taste it and make sure that the wine is free of defects. At this point I would like to make a very important clarification: the tasting of wine is only and exclusively to understand if the wine is free of defects and not to understand whether you like it or not. It seems like a detail but if the tasting was to understand if the bottle was to your liking, this could mean that you could open 100 bottles until you find one that is right for you, and you understand that it would be chaos.

In the unfortunate event that the bottle presents glaring defects, everything will be simple, report it to the sommelier and he will change the bottle. In case the bottle has something that does not convince you but you do not know how to explain it well to the sommelier, invite him to taste a drop of wine and he will help you unravel your doubts.

Once the bottle is finished, avoid (I ask you with my heart in hand) to flip the bottle into the ice bucket, it is not polite and is disrespectful towards those who work there.


I hope I have provided you with some interesting and useful information. We are confident that during 2024 you will be able to put some of these recommendations into practice.

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