Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es. Most of us recognize the basic truth in Brillat-Savarin’s contention that one can tell what you are by knowing what you eat, but we could possibly do the same if we looked at what you drink or even how you present what you drink. This is the time of year when we all seem to pay more careful attention to what we will drink, especially if we can believe the e-mails, postal flyers, and retail store promotions, which, when you really analyse them, all begin to look alike in any given municipality. Why not. They all procure their offerings from the same wholesale suppliers and can only distinguish their selections by special pricing or by attention-getting posters.
It’s the time of year when we begin to see news features about what we should serve at Christmas dinner or at New Year’s Eve galas. My own recommendations, in print or conversation, have not varied much from year to year, so I really don’t focus much on suggesting specific wines or cocktails for the holidays. Instead, I tend to take more interest in how the wines of choice are presented. Perhaps Monsieur Brillat-Savarin could have expanded his observations by saying “how you serve your wines tells me a lot about what you are.”
Present your Champagne or other sparkling wine in a flat cup-shaped glass instead of a vertical tulip-shaped flute tells us that you don’t care much for the bubbles that give Champagne its uniqueness. Serving your white wines icy cold says that aroma and fruitiness are not important to you. Serving it in a glass without a stem says you don’t care what the wine looks like. And while a wine glass need only have a stem (to keep your hand from warming it in the bowl) and be made of clear glass (to enable you to see the wine), on an elegant table, a thin crystal glass makes a more favorable impression than ordinary glass. And if you present your red wines in a glass slightly larger than those for your white wines, you are telling us that you know how best to enjoy their bouquets.
Lest the above appears a bit snobbish, please take comfort in that the best wine is always the wine you have at the moment and that the glassware on hand will always do, but we do advocate ways to maximize the pleasure to be derived from your wine service. And don’t forget — just as your white wines should not be served too cold, neither should your red wines be served too warm. Both do very well at cellar temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Farenheit. Cheers.