How To Drink Wine The Right Way: The Ultimate Guide

How To Drink Wine The Right Way: The Ultimate Guide

Whether with a long lost friend who’s into wine or esteemed work colleagues looking to relax, drinking a glass of wine together can serve to impress an individual or start off an intimate gathering. To make sure the event goes right, it certainly helps to have a working wine knowledge of the cultural nuances when enjoying a glass. Whether at a dinner party, wine bar, or formal event, learn the proper etiquette so that the wine and conversation both go down smoothly.

Wine for beginners might seem overwhelming. While understanding how to drink wine the right way is not complicated, it certainly requires attention for detail.  At Cedar Creek Ranch, we believe that drinking wine should be a relaxing activity to discover flavor and connect with friends. Follow these tips to build your knowledge on how to drink wine properly.

Ready to try some delicious wine, come visit Cedar Creek Ranch!

Related: How to Choose Wine: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Choosing the right wine glass

To show your wine knowledge, begin by choosing the right vessel for your wine.

This isn't a made-up set of rules, but scientific logic as for why different wines require different glasses.

Evidence has shown the glass shape affects the density and position of the wine vapors. This means certain wines are best suited to specific glass shapes so that aromatic compounds reach your nose effectively. These compounds are responsible for how one perceives wine flavors. You can't enjoy a good Cedar Creek Wine without the right glass!


Let’s go through the right wine glasses for common varieties of wine.

White Wine

White wine is often served in smaller bowled glasses. These glasses help maintain a colder temperature, preserving the crispness of a fine white wine and accentuating its acidity. The curved shape of the glass also helps hold onto the floral aromas longer, allowing the wine to preserve its notes longer. 

There are exceptions to this small glass rule. White wines such as White Rioja, Viognier, and Orange wines are better served in a larger bowl to emphasize their creamy texture. 

Red Wine

Red wine is best served in a glass with a wide opening. This mellows the spice and bitterness of the tannins in the wine so they are not too overpowering. The wide opening also better captures the fresh aromas, since one's nose is much closer to the opening.

There are three glasses in particular that are best suited for red wine:


A larger Bordeaux glass best suits bolder varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon, and any Bordeaux Blends. A drinker can sense more aromatic compounds due to the more full opening; the release of aromas removes harshness to make the wine taste smoother. 

For medium to full-bodied red wines, using the regular red wine glasses with smaller openings help to soften the more mellow spicy notes. These glasses are perfect for wines like our 2013 Petite Sirah.

Bourgogne glasses are the other choice for red wines that are much subtler in nature. These have a large round bowl that's perfect for holding the aromas near the surface of the wine. This type of glass is great for Pinot Noirs, Freisa, Gamay, and St Laurent wines. 

Ready to try some delicious wine, come visit Cedar Creek Ranch!

Ordering wine at a restaurant

Drinking wine at a restaurant might feel just as intimidating as drinking wine socially at home. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by wine lists and knowledgeable servers at restaurant, remember that they’re there to help you. The wine drinking process starts right when you look at the menu. Have in mind a couple of regions that produce wine you like. You should also keep in mind several adjectives to describe to the waiter, like “fruity,” “full-bodied,” or “savory,” so they can help you choose the right one for you.

You can also keep an open mind and ask your server what they recommend. Ordering wine isn’t a chance to show off, but a chance to discover new flavors.

The right amount of wine

When it comes to the proper amount of wine to pour into the glass, white wine should be filled halfway while red wine should be filled to a third of the glass. The empty space creates room for one to give the wine a swirl and aerate it. 

Exceptions to this rule include sparkling wine or champagne, both of which can be filled to three quarters.

Pouring wine into a glass is simple. Simply pour to the specific amount in a glass and this can usually be indicated by the widest part of the bowl with most glass makes. Glassblowers do this intentionally to help the pourer! As one is done pouring, twist the bottle slightly at the end to avoid any back spill onto the wine bottle. 

Visit us at Cedar Creek Ranch & Winery for a wine tasting.

Holding the wine glass

An important piece of wine knowledge is that any wine glass should be held at the stem. Someone holding a delicate glass above the stem may appear less elegant, and will definitely minimize the quality of the wine’s taste.


This is because you drink wine served at a certain temperatures. When held at the bowl, one's body temperature can distort the temperature of the wine. This is especially true for white wines, which will become less chilled for a warmer, fermented taste.


Holding the glass at the stem and giving it slight swirls help to aerate the wine and release aromatic compounds. This aeration helps boost flavors and the tasting experience. 

If you’re ready to try some delicious wine, come visit Cedar Creek Ranch!

Drinking the wine

When it comes to drinking the wine, there are three key steps: Look, Smell, and Taste.


Learn about the wine you’re drinking by glancing at the wine for roughly 5 seconds. Observe the details; examine its color, opacity, and viscosity. 


When it comes to wine tastings, top sommeliers state that smell is the most important sense when it comes to drinking wine. Bring the nose close to the wine bowl without actually drinking the wine. Subtly smell the aromas at the surface to sense a hint of the various fruits used in developing the wine. These are primary aromas which come from the grape used. 


Secondary aromas come from the process of winemaking. They often involve husky tones from almonds or peanuts. 


Tertiary aromas are produced from the aging process and may include vanilla, roasted nuts, or cedar tones. 


If something smells off in this stage, this may indicate an improperly aged wine. 


The more you practice, the more you will enhance your working wine knowledge. You may even be able to identify types of wine just by smelling them.


People swirl their wine in order to release the aromas. It causes alcohol to evaporate, releasing the many aromas of the wine into the air. When you swirl wine, small streams form called legs. A high amount of legs indicates a high alcohol content.


Finally, taste the wine in two stages. 

When the wine first hits the tongue and sits in the mouth, aromas hit the taste buds. After drinking the wine, a different set of aromas shift into focus, and the flavor of wine will change slightly. 

Time plays a factor in the tasting process, as flavor transforms from the time when it’s first in the mouth, while it sits, and towards the end when swallowed.

Certain wines such as Pinot Grigio will deliver bitter tones at this stage, while others may have heightened grape sugars that provide sweetness.  The texture will also vary across these stages. Tannins, for example, produce a drying sensation when in the mouth. 

In addition to know how to drink wine, one also needs to know the basics of serving wine to host the perfect event. We'll go through common guidelines on the right temperature to serve wine, using a decanter, how long to leave a wine bottle open, and pairings with popular food items.  Continue learning about wine by reading about the different selections, and look for the notes each wine has while you’re tasting it.

Has the Wine Gone Bad?

When you’re drinking wine, you should check to make sure it hasn’t gone bad. In addition to smelling the wine, you should also smell the cork. It should not smell like vinegar. A high amount of bubbles is also a bad sign, since it might indicate impurities are present. Avoid drinking wines that are too brown.


How to Talk About Wine

One of the best parts about drinking wine is talking about it. However, you don’t want to be that annoying friend who goes on and on about tannins. When you’re talking about wine, remember that the point is to socialize and discuss flavors - not to show off. It can be helpful to mention technical adjectives so you can talk about the wine with specifics, but don’t be afraid to give your gut reaction and say what you actually think about the wine. Wine adjectives are there for you to clarify your opinion, not to make you feel bogged down.

Related: Sangiovese Wine: Everything You Need To Know


Serving temperatures for different wines

Wine varieties are best served at different temperatures. This helps ensure the aromatics are not subdued due to the temperature of the wine. 

Red Wine

Red wine is perfect when served slightly below room temperature at 53 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A good rule of thumb is to place the bottle in the refrigerator for 5 minutes before serving. 

White Wine

White wine is properly served between 44 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Oak-aged varieties should be served on the warmer side of this spectrum. As a result, it's good to keep wine bottles in the fridge 15 to 30 minutes before serving. 

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines taste best at 38 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. These should be chilled in the fridge before serving. If one is using high-quality varieties of champagne or sparkling wine, it's better to follow the white wine serving temperatures to bring out the flavors. 

Ready to try some delicious wine, come visit Cedar Creek Ranch!

How Long Does Wine Stay Good After Opening?

Wine bottles can be preserved if they are re-corked and kept in the fridge. Keep in mind that oxidation still takes places, and red and white wines won't last beyond three to five days. 

Sparkling and natural wines will only last one to three days. If the wine starts to emit vinegar tones, then the wine is starting to go bad. 

If the wine can’t be re-corked properly, expect it go bad even more quickly.


Should You Use a Decanter?

Decanters are purpose-built wine servers that are shaped to allow wine to breathe. Wine can be poured into the decanter 30 to 45 minutes before serving to guests. This lets it sit while softening any of the wine's harsh tones. Not all wine needs to be decanted, but one can commonly find any red wine variety in a decanter. Owning a decanter certainly demonstrates wine sophistication and sophisticated guests!


Pairing with food

Specific dishes go great with certain wines and poorly with others. Here’s the 101 for knowing what to eat when drinking wine.

Rosé is versatile and will work with most dishes. Because of this, they go very well with any course that involves a mix of flavors. 

Any fish or pasta dishes will work well with white wine, while any rich bloody meat dishes go great with red wine. 

With desserts, always pair with wine that’s as sweet or sweeter than the dish. 

At Cedar Creek, we host wine dinners and private tasting as well!

Learning about wine is a great way to foster relationships with other cultural savants. But you don’t have to be a gourmand; anyone can get into wine! Boost your wine knowledge in selecting, serving, and drinking. If you'd like to learn more about wine, take a tour of Napa and Sonoma wine with Wine Country Travel Knowing the basics can help one get through any event involving wine without looking like a klutz. Unless of course too much wine is consumed, in which case acting like a klutz is guaranteed! Start your wine tasting adventures by trying rare wines from Cedar Creek Ranch Winery.

Related: The Best Way to Store Wine