It’s a great day when you discover a wine you love. But then what? What’s the best way to serve, store, or bring it to your favorite restaurant? Winemaker Katie Madigan, of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma, offers a few helpful tips to keep things simple:

Buying at a Store

Have a plan. Do you have a set menu for dinner? Want to explore something new for a girls’ night in? Lay out guidelines ahead of time to quicken and simplify the wine buying process.

You deserve good customer service. There is a lot of wine on the shelf. Get someone to help you navigate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as, “Is this wine too sweet? Will it pair well with my shrimp dish? Is there another Chardonnay better for the price?”

Ordering at a Restaurant

Ask for a sample. If you’re curious about how a wine tastes and the bottle is already open, this is acceptable to ask any sommelier or bartender.

Bring your own bottle. You’ll spend a fraction to enjoy your favorite bottle vs. ordering a wine you’re not sure about. Make sure to call the restaurant ahead of time to learn of their corkage policy.

Storing at Home

Keep it out of the sun. If you’re saving a bottle or two for a special occasion, make sure to store them away from heat or sunlight. Someplace dark at a constant temperature is best for wine storage, i.e. a closet. If you store a lot of wine, consider a proper wine fridge. Whatever you do, DO NOT store wine on top of your fridge or near your stove. It’s simply too hot.

Refrigerate after opening. It will help maintain the wine’s freshness for a least a week, whereas left of the counter, it will only stay fresh for a day or two.

Wine glasses at restaurant
Photo: Andreas Strandman, Unsplash

Katie Madigan is a winemaker for St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, where she has worked for the past 15 years. Her interest in winemaking grew from her attraction towards science and her passion for creativity. She is responsible for the production of three of St. Francis’ top wines: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and “Old Vines” Zinfandel. Katie has also received substantial recognition for her work: she was awarded “Best Woman Winemaker” by the International Women’s Wine Competition in 2015.

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