Down in the cellar

Where is the best place to store wine, which wine is appropriate for what dish and how to uncork a bottle? Here are some expert answers.

December 5, 2010 12:00
4 minute read.
A couple enjoys a bottle of wine. (Illustrative)

drinking wine2_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A rough guide when buying wine, and wondering how many bottles to buy, is to use the rule of thumb that there are six glasses to a bottle. A conservative estimate would be to calculate that you will need two glasses per person.


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Wine will deteriorate if not kept correctly. Most important is to keep wine bottles lying down or upside down to ensure the cork stays moist. If it dries out, the cork will rot and too much air will enter the bottle and the wine will become oxidized. Keep the bottle away from sunlight and large variations of temperature. Wine racks may be bought from wine shops, or a wine case, laid on its side, makes a workable wine rack. If you want to ensure a wine survives the heat of July and August in Israel, purchase of a wine fridge is a sound investment.

A red wine will last for longer than a white wine, and if you keep wine at home in normal conditions, you are recommended to drink white and rosé wines young when they are fruity and fresh, and certainly within a year.


Sparkling and sweet wines should be served very cold, regular white wines and rosés cold, but high-quality white wines are better chilled, because if they are too cold it will kill the flavor. Red wines should theoretically be served at room temperature, whilst some light, fruity red wines are excellent chilled. In fact, the most common fault in wine service is temperature. Red wines are invariably served too warm and quality white wines too cold. I believe all reds in Israel should be slightly chilled. Twenty minutes in a domestic fridge will bring down the temperature, but the wine will soon warm up in the glass.

Put your white or rosé wines in the fridge at least one hour before needed. Alternatively, 15 minutes in the freezer will do the job, but don’t forget it there! The quickest way to chill a bottle is in an ice bucket (or sink) filled with ice and water. A pinch of salt will speed up the cooling process.

The simplest bottle opener is the “waiter’s friend” and is the easiest to use. It has a corkscrew, a knife for cutting the top of the capsule, just above or below the lip of the bottle and a lever to assist with cork removal.

Opening a wine “to let it breathe” really does not achieve anything, as such a small part of the wine comes into contact with air. If you want to aerate a wine, use a decanter. A decanter is usually used to remove a wine from its sediment. However, don’t ever keep wine in a decanter as it will deteriorate quickly.


An ideal wineglass for home use does not have to be expensive, but it should have a stem, a reasonable bowl and the glass should taper in at the top. Glasses should be of clear and not colored glass or expensive crystal.

The perfect meal may start with a sparkling wine as an aperitif, followed by a white wine with the first course and then a red wine with the main course. Most people will choose just one wine for a dinner and that is acceptable.

In that case, choose a wine that ideally goes with the main course. Most important is to choose a wine you like or that you would really like to try. This is far more important than buying something simply to impress your guests. When you pour the wine, fill the glasses so that they are half full, or if you have large glasses, to just over a third full.


If you have only drunk half a bottle, rather than throwing the rest away, put the cork back in the bottle (hint: if the cork does not go in, turn it around the other way, it will go in more easily) and put the bottle in the fridge. This slows the aging process and the wine will last longer. Alternatively, there are wine saver devices that will help maintain quality and freshness for a few days. Another tip is to put the remains in a small plastic water bottle. You can squeeze the bottle to get rid of any air as you put the top on. A quality wine may even improve by the second day; just make sure you take it out of the fridge in time for it to warm up.

Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery and regularly writes about wine in both Israeli and international publications.

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