Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen General Manager Barry Tunnell explains how to get the most out of wine at home.
Story by Barry Tunnell
Occasionally our guests mention when they seek out bottles of wines they’ve discovered at Tannin, they oftentimes don’t think the same wines are as good as they remember from their visit. The truth is the bottles they are drinking probably aren’t as enjoyable as what we served them. The secret to the difference is a good restaurant or wine bar takes many steps to ensure the quality and integrity of the wine over the course of its production, distribution, storage and service. It isn’t difficult to replicate these steps in your home wine service to ensure you get the maximum enjoyment possible from each glass of your favorite wines.
As a home consumer, you probably won’t be able to oversee each step of the distribution and storage of your wine once it leaves the winery (unless you buy direct from the winery), but developing trust in a really good wine shop or retailer should set your mind at ease that your wine wasn’t exposed to too much heat, cold or other perils. As you know, Kansas City has dramatic seasons with lots of heat in the summer and cold in the winter—not ideal conditions for shipping or storing good wine. A good retailer should ensure wines are delivered in top condition and stored well before they’re sold to you, but your grocery store may not. Quality retailers and restaurants can offer purer wines with little to no added preservatives that would spoil on the shelf at a grocery store with bright florescent lighting and variable temperatures for storage.
Once you’re home with your purchase, you’ll want to find the best possible home storage. The longer you aim to hold a wine, the more important this will be. The kitchen counter is probably fine for what you’re enjoying tonight; a cool closet or the basement should work for a little longer. If your aim is to mature special bottles, it’s probably worth investing in a specialized wine refrigerator or an insulated, temperature-controlled room (60 degrees or a little cooler is best for wine). The temperature at which wine is served should also be considered. Put a red wine in your fridge several minutes before serving to get the slight chill that tames the alcohol in a red and focuses the flavors. You may enjoy white wines best served directly from the fridge, or experiment with allowing them to warm slightly before enjoying.
Nice stemware that is well cleaned and polished is key, too. Different types of wine glasses could warrant an article on their own, but once you have them, you’ll want to show off your wines in an odorless glass (detergent aromas can spoil the best wine).
It’s really hard to beat the context afforded by a great restaurant or wine bar, especially if you’re on vacation in an exotic location or vineyard, but sometimes wine tastes best at home with dinner. Personally, many of my favorite wine experiences have been at home, around 9 p.m. when the Kansas City Symphony Hour starts on KCUR and a nice bottle is open on the kitchen counter.