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Scott Schulfer

Pouring Wine: 5 Features of How To Pour Wine

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Pouring wine is an important part of bartender duties. Done well, it ensures you serve the right amount of wine to the customer and avoid spillage. Otherwise you'll end up needing a wine stain remover to get it off of whatever else you poured it on.

Here, we’re not going to cover how to open a bottle of wine. That’s a topic that demands its own treatment. We’ll start this story just after the bottle’s uncorked.

Let’s first look briefly at how much to pour, then get into the basics of the right pouring technique.

How To Pour Wine

Pouring a proper glass of wine can be a bit complicated, so it’s best to break it down into steps to avoid wasting any. Here’s how to pour wine correctly into a glass or decanter:

First, leave the wine glass on the table. That's one of the first things you need to learn about wine. Second, you should hold the bottle on its lower half. Some servers will place the bottle on the palm of their hand and pour with their thumb in the wine’s punt (the indentation on the bottom of the bottle). Some will wrap their hand around the lower part of the bottle as if it were any other bottle. Both are fine. What they have in common is that the bottle is gripped on its lower half and using only one hand. To prevent dripping, you’ll need your other hand to use your cloth napkin. The Court of Master Sommeliers service standards dictate that bottles be poured while being held with one hand.

Then, after you've used your wine opener and the uncorked bottle is in your hand, you’re ready to pour. Tilt the bottle opening down over your targeted wine glass and pour the wine relatively slowly into the glass. Where into the glass? In the center or along the side, it doesn’t really matter.

If you pour it along the inside of the glass, it will rush around the glass more violently and aerate a bit better. But your guest is 100% going to swirl the glass anyway. And that will aerate the wine far more. If you’re intrigued, read more about what wine aerators do, and check out our list of best wine aerators. Point is, it doesn’t really matter where you pour the wine in the glass. 

Finally, when you hit the 5-ounce mark, tilt the bottle slightly upward with a quick (but not violent) twisting motion. Then quickly wipe the bottle’s lip with a cloth napkin. It’s impossible not to get some amount of wine on the lip of the bottle when pouring. And once it’s there, it’s likely to drip. So the name of the game is lessening the amount on the lip then swooping in with a quick napkin assist.

Pouring Red Wine

The only real different consideration with red wine is that old reds should be decanted. Learning how to decant wine is also learning how to pour wine correctly into a decanter and pour wine out of it. If you’ve got some old tannic reds, here are what we consider the best wine decanters.

How to Pour White Wine

The primary consideration for pouring white wine is that, if it’s being chilled in an ice bucket, wipe it down with a cloth napkin before pouring. Beyond that, you’ll pour a standard wine pour just like you’d pour a red wine.

How to Pour Sparkling Wine

Pouring wine is ultimately similar to other wines, except that the risk of the wine bubbling over exists. And that goes doubly for anything you’re serving in a flute glass. When pouring sparkling wine, you should pour more consistently and slowly than you would for other wines. Avoid at all costs the drink bubbling over the rim.

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How Much Wine To Pour?

You should always expect to pour a 5 oz glass in a professional setting. This is also known as the standard wine pour. That’s what all bartenders are tought is the answer to how much to pour in a wine glass. A big part of how to pour wine correctly is pouring the correct amount. It’s not only the ideal volume for an individual serving, but it ensures that everyone drinking from the bottle gets enough. If you're a bartender, this gives you the same advantage that a standardized recipe gives a kitchen. Lower pour cost or food cost.

Many people choose the free pouring route when pouring wine, and there’s a little trick to hitting the right pour. No matter what types of wine glasses you’re using, the widest part of the bowl often corresponds to the 5-ounce mark. It’s an invisible measuring stick.

There are also some handy tools to make pouring wine easier. Pick up a wine pourer or some wine glasses with pour lines and you’ll be well on your way.

Pouring Wine Ain’t So Hard

If you’re holding the wine bottle on its bottom half and not dripping when you pour, congratulations. You’re 98% of the way there. And if the other 2% fascinates you, then you may have a future as a sommelier or a wine negociant. Now, go pick up a book to learn about wine and develop more skills. Just don’t stress too much about pouring wine. That’s what sommeliers get paid to do. 

Also, if you're using a wine aerator or a decanter, take the time to learn about the differences and read about how to clean a decanter so you always have beautifully clean equipment. You don't want to find out the hard way can wine go bad.

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