definition of Sommelier

By Ken Fredrickson, MS
Restaurant Terroir, Jackson, Wyoming


It never fails: at least once a week someone brings into the restaurant that "special" bottle of wine. The one they have been holding on to for several years, waiting for the perfect moment to open. Of course, it has been tucked away safely in its wine rack, resting on top of the refrigerator. Big problem. Let's assume you are like most people and you don't have a walk-in temperature and humidity-controlled wine room. Let me offer a couple of tips for drinking and storing wine at home:


Heat: Try to store your wine in areas away from heat-not on top of the refrigerator or in the cabinet above the range. Heat can prematurely age a wine and even "cook" it, making it taste and smell maderized.

Light: Keep your wine out of direct light, especially sunlight. I once did a test in which we tasted two bottles of the same wine-- one was set out in the sunlight for 10 minutes and the other was not. The one left in the sun was stripped of flavor. A common term used to describe this problem would be "light shock."

Temperature: Try to keep your wine at a constant temperature. It's better to store a wine at, say, 65 degrees Fahrenheit all the time than to store it in a place where the temperature can range 10-plus degrees in a day. So anything special keep off the kitchen counter or the laundry room over the dryer, and instead put it in a box, lay it on its side, and place it in the dark reaches of the basement or even in a closet covered with a blanket.

If you couldn't quite finish off your bottle (this is not a problem I usually have) here are some ideas:

Chill: After you open a bottle (save the cork) it should be stored in the refrigerator with the cork back in it. This goes for all wine: white, red, rosˇ and obviously sparkling. Keeping a wine cold or cool will slow down the aging process.

Invest in a can of Private Preserve. This is a cheap and effective way of keeping your wine fresh. Private Preserve may be found at most wine shops and is basically a can of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and argon that covers your wine like a blanket, protecting it from oxidation. Great and affordable.

Stopper: Buy a champagne stopper. Although I have several friends who insist that a teaspoon inserted into an open bottle of Champagne will keep it bubbly, nothing is as effective as a Champagne stopper.

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