Wine Etiquette – How to Pour, Serve and Enjoy Guide

Advice for entertaining with wine starts with wine service etiquette. Knowing the correct order to serve different wines, ideal serving temperature for red and white wines and correct way to pour. We’ve covered off some common questions here as a guide for when you’re entertaining next.

different types of glasses for champange, white wine, reds, dessert wine
A range of wines and the type of glasses to pair them with

Wine glasses from left to right :  Light white, light red, fortified wine, champagne/sparkling, heavy red eg Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux, rosé, heavy white eg Chardonnay, sweet dessert wine

FAQ's about Wine Etiquette
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    Opening and pouring wine guide

    What is the correct order for serving wines?

    Start with the lightest wine and finish with the sweetest wine. For example:

    • bubbles, champagne
    • light whites – riesling, sauvignon blanc
    • heavy whites -chardonnay, viognier
    • rosés
    • light reds – pinot noir
    • heavy reds – cabernet sauvignon
    • dessert wine

    What temperature should red wine be served at?

    50 – 60 degrees is ideal ‘room temperature’. Red wine can be chilled in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes to achieve the ideal temperature. Lighter reds are better cooler and the bolder reds are best served 55- 60 degrees.


    If a wine is served too warm it will taste over sweet and flat (or lose some of it’s vibrancy). Wine that’s too chilled will lose some flavor.

    What temperature should white wine be served at?

    Between 40 and 55 degrees. Crisp whites are better colder than a more complex-age worthy white.

    What is the correct way to open a wine bottle?

    As quietly as possible, always. The aim is not to hear a loud popping noise unlike when opening a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine.


    Why are red wine glasses bigger?

    The bowl of the glass is designed so that when wine is poured it has room to release the aroma and for the wine to be swilled. Tapering of the glass provides a channel to the nose.


    Reds are given more breathing room in the glass to release aromatics.


    Whites will stay a little cooler for longer in a smaller glass.

    What is the correct way to pour wine?

    Hold the bottle by the base and fill the glass just less than halfway when pouring wine. This gives the wine space to ‘breathe’ and release aromatics inside the glass.


    Reds should be filled a little lower than 1/2 way as they need more exposure to oxygen to release their flavor.

    the correct way to pour red wine into a long stemmed glass
    This is how a sommelier pours red wine

    By the way, champagne and sparkling wine can be filled to the top of the flute.


    Fortified wines, port, sherry, madeira and marsala are dessert wines. By serving around 6 oz (about 1/4 of a standard wine glass) the wine has space. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I definitely think fortified wine tastes better in a larger glass than a traditional port glass.


    As a side note, adding a wine collar to the bottle helps to absorb those extra drops that are prone to run down the side of the bottle.  The collar fits snugly around the top of the wine bottle.

    Be sure to clink glasses ‘bell-to-bell’ before sipping your wine. This reduces the chances of breakages.

    How do I hold a wine glass?

    A wine connoisseur would typically hold his or her glass at the base of the glass with the stem between the index finger and thumb, and use the middle finger as support.


    If you hold the bowl of the glass with your hand it warms the wine and this affects the flavor.

    Is there a correct way to drink from a wine glass?

    Drinking from the same position on the glass every time reduces mouth marks on the glass.


    This photo provides a good example of what not to do. Notice the lipstick marks surrounding the top of the glass. Try to drink from the same position and side of the glass.

    lipstick marks on a white wine glass

    Wine etiquette for dinner parties

    Should I open wine a guest brings?

    There’s no obligation to serve the wine a guest brings. It’s at your discretion if you open it or not. As the host, you may have the wines for the function preplanned. 


    Choose to share it or save it for another time.


    As a guest, if you’re giving wine as a gift to the host, wrap it up. If you’d like to share it, don’t wrap it and tell the host you bought it to share. Thinking outside the box, why not consider giving a wine opener as a gift?

    Is there a rule for topping up glasses?

    Drink at the same pace as your guests and always offer others a top-up before pouring for yourself.


    Ideally, you’ll want to learn about the most common types of wines available as well as the correct glasses to use for each, and how to pair specific wines with dishes.

    What is a Sommelier?

    A knowledgeable, wine professional who keeps the wine cellar in a fine dining establishment.


    A Sommelier is formally trained and works alongside the culinary team. They also work on the floor of a restaurant and suggest wine/menu pairings to guests.


    Sommelier vs Connoisseur

    The terms Sommelier and Connoisseur are often confused. A connoisseur specializes in a given field which may be art, for example. Their specialty may not be related to wine.