The 10 Commandments of Wine

Posted by: Marcelo Copello

Post Date 17-Mar-2017 21:31:00

This is a text that I publish from time to time because it's, at the same time, both synthetic and comprehensive. I admit that I like the title for its grandiosity and the way it sounds, but I dislike its meaning, since wine does not need "commandments" or rules, but instead, as I make clear in the following lines, simple common sense with the purpose of satisfaction to those who taste it. That said, let's continue.

The 10 Commandments of Wine

Someone who endures in the arts of Bacchus, soon realizes that wine is a true universe, full of new information. This complexity can be fascinating but, at the same time, confusing for the less experienced and alienate the specialists, thus driving them away from the true reason for this nectar, the simple joie de vivre, the joy of living. So, for a moment, let us recall the essential, precepts that, no matter how much we venture into the world of this noble fermented liquid, we should always carry with us. With this state of spirit, I list bellow ten tips or basic rules to better enjoy wine:

  1. The Temperature

    Does anyone like their coffee cold or their beer hot? Freezing white wine in excess will mask its scents, while "room temperature" for red is a cliché that, for example, in Brazil rarely happens due to its hot climate. A red wine should be generally served at 18ºC (64ºF), whites at 12ºC (53ºF) and sparkling ones at 8ºC (46ºF.
A wine fridge which has 2 different temperature zones
Photo by David Cedrone
  1. The Cup

    It's the connoisseur's instrument, a kind of amplifier of the drink qualities. Appreciating a good label wine in a straight thick glass is like listening to Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic on a small battery radio. In its generic description, an ideal cup is composed of its base, stem, and buldge, which should have an oval shape, narrowing down towards the border. It should be completely transparent, of fine glass and, never more than one-third full. For sparkling wines, the ideal is the flute-type elongated glass.
Flute Glass for Champagne
  1. The Winery

    Most of the bottles we buy are consumed quickly, in a matter of days or weeks, and there is not much to worry about these ones. But those who are kept for months or even years need special care. The ideal storing conditions are: place the bottles lying in a place with no light, no vibrations and no strong odors, at a constant temperature, ideally at 13ºC, with an appropriate humidity of 65%.
Wine Cellars
  1. The Bottle Age

    Wine is a living drink constantly changing inside the bottle. The concept of "the older the better" is a myth, all wine is born, matures, remains at its peak for a while and decays until it becomes decrepit and dies. The factors for wine conservation are the alcoholic content, the tannin (present only in red wines), the acidity, and the sweetness. Wines with a higher quantity of these factors live longer and age better in the bottle.
Old Port Wine Bottles
  1. In the Restaurant

    You should ask for the wine list to the maitre or sommelier. Examine the list carefully, look for the wines that best suit, understand the personal taste of each one, their price range, and the dishes ordered. Asking the sommelier's advice is valid. The bottle should be checked before opening it in the presence of everyone. The cork can be placed on the table so it can be examined. A small portion will be served to the one who selected the wine, so it can be accepted and only then served to the other participants.
Sommelier serving wine
  1. Let It Breathe

    Wines, for the most part, must be consumed as soon as they are opened. Some full body red ones of greater longevity, however, benefit from a few minutes of contact with oxygen before being tasted. Opening the bottle and keeping inside the bottle isn't enough, it's necessary to transfer it to a jar or decanter so all the liquid can be in contact with oxygen.
Wine Decanter
  1. Opened Bottles

    Once the bottle is opened, the liquid will gradually oxidize until it becomes impossible to drink, a process that can take from a few hours to several days. The most efficient homemade method to make it last longer is by using smaller bottles of 375ml. When opening a big bottle, transfer half of it to the smaller one, that should be perfectly clean. Fill it completely and then cap it. This way, wine can last a bit longer.
Use smaller bottles to preserve wine
  1. Marrying Wines

    Pairing wines with food is a topic as complex and enjoyable as loving relationships. Marrying wines with dishes is a similar work to cupid or matrimonial agencies. One should learn about the other's personality, value their affinities, and advantage of their contrasts. Look for traditional combinations or create your own and fall in love with them.
Wine and Food Pairing
  1. The Sequence

    Replacing wine during a meal is normal and even recommended. This exchange, however, should me judicious. Ideally, the sequence should follow crescendo of taste. The whites before the red ones, the light before the full ones, the mediocre before the better ones, and the dry before the sweet ones. The wrong order can compromise a wine, while the right one can value it.
Choose the wine sequence wisely
  1. Pleasure

    Remember that for all the rules there are exceptions that confirm them and that this number 10 rule should prevail above the other ones. Appreciating wine is an art, after all this is the most complex, complete, and fascinating drink that exists. When opening a bottle, the true artist must, above all, remember and subordinate all the precepts to the reason we choose this drink: pleasure.

Enjoy wine, as it is supposed to be

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Topics:   Wine Red Wine

Marcelo Copello

Written by: Marcelo Copello

Partner and Ambassador at Wine Tourism in Portugal

Marcelo Copello is one of the most important opinion makers in the wine industry in Brazil, with an expressive international career. More about Marcelo Copello and his work at

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