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 on 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.


  1. Looking forward to learning all about wine. Right now all I know is I prefer white to red

    • Patti, welcome to Wine365, we look forward to guiding you on your wine journey. One way to learn a little bit about wine every day is to subscribe to the Daily Drop, which delivers a little nugget of wine information every day to your inbox. And, if you have any questions about wine, there’s a link at the very bottom of this page where you can “Ask a Question.” Thanks for visiting and for commenting!

  2. Reginald Williams Reply

    This is some good information. I am looking to open a wine bar soon. I am looking to learn the wine makers, what wines go with different things and how to buy wine.

    • Reginald, thank you for the kind words, we’re happy to help you with your wine journey. Best of luck in your wine bar venture, let us know how that goes.

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