Guests are due to arrive any minute, your wine choices are dubious and your corkscrew was purchased for just $1.99 at a certain Swedish mega-store.
Well, this may not be the best wine-and-cheese party you’ve ever had, so before you throw your next shindig, read our Q&A with food and wine expert Scott Jones to learn what you should have on-hand for any wine occasion that may arise.
If you were going to keep five types of wine stocked at home, what would they be?
In terms of wines, you want something that is light and crisp and refreshing, so stock a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. They tend to be good when it’s warm outside — they’re like adult lemonade.
Keep a bottle of sparkling wine on hand from California or Spain. It’s always nice and celebratory to have some bubbles. It needs to be really, really cold, well-chilled. It’s really the only one that has to be chilled because it helps with the effervescence of the wine.
I would encourage folks to keep a pinot noir. It’s a classic and a crossover grape. It works well with heartier white meat, like roasted chicken or roasted turkey, but also with other meats, like pork and grilled salmon. It’s a red wine that white-wine drinkers and red-wine drinkers can come together over.
Then I’d have a full-bodied, more robust wine: a cabernet. It’s good with heartier meet, like beef roast or meat with some fat, like a ribeye.
What types of glasses are needed?
There is a glass for every wine, but you come to my house and you’ll get all your wine in a little French bistro glass. I would never fuss over stemware. The one exception to that is Champagne — the flute does help concentrate the bubbles, so there’s a reason to serve sparkling wine in a flute. I’d rather people spend more money for better wine than for stemware.
What kind of corkscrew do you recommend?
I typically use a waiter’s key, but I have friends who have electric corkscrews, and those are cool, too. I just like the waiter’s key because it’s easy. The one thing I do have to say is buy a quality one; it’s like a knife — you get what you pay for.
When is it best to open each wine?
You can let any red wine breathe for a while. In America, we tend to serve white wines just way too cold. When wine gets too cold, all you taste is the acidity. The wonderful fruit flavors don’t have a chance to come out. I will take the wine out of the refrigerator to take the chill off, so when you do get that first glass, it’s ready to drink.
How do you store wine after a bottle has been opened?
The best-case scenario is that you drink the whole bottle; the next best-case scenario is to put a vacuum seal in there and suck the air out; then store in the refrigerator, both red and white. The next best thing is to put the cork back in there and put it in the refrigerator. Either way, you’re only talking about a day or day and a half that it will last.