We live surrounded by ceremonies, linked both to events of a religious nature (weddings, baptisms, communions ...) and profane, much more numerous than the first. Ceremonies of award ceremonies, of taking office, of inauguration, of tribute ... whose pageantry is directly proportional to the importance it has or wants to give to the reason for it. There are even times when the ceremony itself becomes as important as what motivates it.
A small ceremony is also enough to make simple and everyday things unique. For example, the ritual of service in a restaurant of prestige works the magic of transform the simple act of eating into a special moment. In these establishments, maîtres, waiters and sommeliers follow a script (which could sometimes be described even as choreography) in which each gesture has its reason for being, however theatrical it may sometimes seem.
The ceremonial service of a wine It is, perhaps, the most cryptic for most, and there are few who think that it is nothing more than a paraphernalia that only serves to justify what they charge you for the bottle. Like everything in life, it is necessary to understand this protocol in order to assess that the proper treatment and service of a wine results in greater pleasure when we drink it.
The Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defines "ceremony" as "external action or act arranged by law, statute or custom to worship divine things or reverence and honor to the profane." So, the wine service ceremony also seeks to pay honor and reverenceIn this case, both the wine and the person it is served.
It is a sign of respect for both and a way of turning something special into that bottle and someone special to that diner. And like any ceremony, the more delicate, rare and exclusive the wine, the greater the pageantry of the staging and the care given to the wine. Let's see how a wine should be treated, served and presented to the table to enjoy, not only drinking it, but with each one of the moments of a ceremony destined for the wine to reach us in optimal conditions.
The presentation on the table of the bottle will depend on whether or not it has deposits (what is commonly called "grounds") They present some bottles of red wine. Contrary to what many neophytes think, the deposits do not indicate any defect, but are the logical consequence of the aging of the wine: they are symptoms of quality and respect for a natural way of working. This type of aging wines that are in a horizontal position in the cellar, they are brought to the table cradled in a basket keeping the bottle horizontal and trying to make it move as little as possible, since if it moves the sediments will remain in suspension and will inevitably fall into the glass.
The basket must be held with both hands and by the ends, not below or by the handle. With the wine in the basket, we will remove the entire capsule, including the part that covers the neck of the bottle and carefully uncork it (any wine must be uncorked without the stopper making noise when leaving, including sparkling ones). Y what we will rotate will be the corkscrew and never the bottle, to move the wine as little as possible. We will light a candle and carefully remove the bottle from the basket keeping it horizontal.
We will take a decanter with the left hand (right for lefties) and the bottle with the opposite hand, placing the shoulders and the beginning of the neck of the bottle about 10 centimeters from the candle flame: then we will go pouring the wine into the decanter little by little. The flame allows us to see from above, by projecting its light and making the liquid and the glass more transparent, at what moment the sediments reach the shoulders of the bottle. When we see solid substances arrive we have to stop and leave that rest of the wine in the bottle.
This operation is called decantation.. The decantation should never be interrupted: once we start pouring the wine into the decanter we will not stop until the deposits appear, since if we stop, we will interrupt the flow, the particles will enter into suspension and will not do any good. The decanter can be supported in various ways depending on the shape it has, although generally we must take it as the base. In any case, where it should never be held is by the neck.
Ripe reds without deposits will be brought upright to the table and they must be transferred or jugged, whenever possible, with some time in advance (between half an hour and an hour before being consumed). The transfer consists simply of pouring the wine into the decanter but without following all the previous rules since these wines do not have deposits and their purpose is to oxygenate the wine and accelerate the expression of aromas.
Young whites, pinks and reds are brought upright to the table and they open at the last moment. They are served directly from the bottle that, in the case of whites and rosés, should be placed in a bucket with water and ice, but taking care that it does not get too cold and loses its aromatic expression.
Guard targets are also presented vertically and they usually open at the last moment, although if they are very old, it may be convenient to open them half an hour earlier. They are served directly from the bottle and less cold than the young ones.
Sparkling wines are presented upright and they are served directly from the bottle. To open a sparkling bottle we have to hold it with both hands: by the cork with one and by the base with the other. We will just rotate the bottle with the hand that holds the base. We have to keep holding the cork tightly and we will feel it slowly rising by the simple push of the carbonic. We will let it rise to its rhythm and leave smoothly, without explosion or noise. Once served, the bottle will be kept in a bucket with water and ice.
But let's continue with the ceremony ...
Once the bottle is opened, the sommelier visually and olfactorily examine the corkYou will place it on a plate and leave it on the table so that the person who has chosen the wine, first, and the other guests, if they wish, can do the same. And it is that the possible aromatic defects of the wine will be transmitted automatically to the cork and when we smell it we will know that something is not right ...
In many cases, before serving the wine (always starting the service with the person who has chosen it), the sommelier tastes a small amount before anyone else, either in a glass wine cellar or in your own tastevin that you will wear around your neck with a chain or leather strap, to ensure that it is in perfect condition.
And you know: enjoy the ceremony, you are part of it.