To fully appreciate the wine you are serving, the answer to this question is not “to the brim!” The fill level of a wine glass should be below two-thirds full, and preferably less than half. There are a number of reasons to do this. Primarily, this fill level aids in full appreciation of the wine’s aroma. A low fill level allows the taster to swirl the wine without spilling it, releasing the wine’s aromatic compounds. Furthermore, the more space left in the bowl of the glass, the more space there is for the aroma to collect so the taster can appreciate it. A further advantage to a low fill level is that it can allow the taster to control the temperature of the wine. Most white wines and light reds are best at 60 ° F, which is also the optimal storage temperature. Wine in the glass will warm up above this temperature more quickly than in the bottle, so having a small amount in the glass helps keep the last few sips from being too warm. For medium and full-bodied reds, a warmer tasting temperature is better, and having a small serving enables the taster to warm the wine more quickly by holding the glass. So next time, instead of filling the glass all the way, have two small glasses, and savor your wine all the more!
Where does the word “enology” come from?
Enology, or Oenology as it is sometimes spelled, is the study of winemaking. This definition has more recently expanded into many aspects of viticulture, which ecologists have more recently recognized as central to the winemaking process. The word, as with many scientific disciplines, originates from the Greek term. In this case, the Greek word is oinos, which is naturally, Greek for wine.
Why are wood chips sometimes used in wine production?
This sometimes-criticized practice is essentially a less expensive alternative to using oak barrels. Wine that is matured in oak barrels takes on a number of properties that are preferred in many kinds of wine, as has been previously discussed in the Wine Wizard. However, oak barrels are very expensive, so a more affordable option for some wine producers is to put oak chips in a steel vessel. However, some producers put oak chips in oak barrels to supplement the effect of the barrel. Oak chips are not without their disadvantages, because they can release acids, which can reduce the potential of the wine to age. In the short term, however, the disadvantages are rarely noticeable. It should be noted that use of oak chips is distinct from oak extract. Oak extract as a wine additive is generally illegal in most wine-producing regions. This is an even less expensive substitute for oak barrels, which is strictly a flavor additive, with very destructive effects on bottle aging potential.
Originally published in our Gold Wine Club's The Wine Press, Lambert Bridge Winery edition.