Serving Guide for Beer, Spirits & Wine

There’s a reason why cocktail recipes stipulate a certain kind of glass—and why a good Chardonnay should be chilled but not stone cold. Make the most of your drinks by using the most appropriate glasses and serving them at the optimum temperature. Here’s how.

Glassware

A Champagne flute preserves the bubbles better than a coupe, but do different glasses really affect the way a drink actually tastes? It’s an easy experiment to do. Since so much of the way we experience flavour is actually to do with smell, the shape of a glass—gathering or dissipating aromas, enlarging or shrinking the surface area of the liquid—can make a dramatic difference.
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1. Champagne Flute

Sparkling wine

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2. Coupe

Cocktails served straight up

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3. Highball Glass

Long cocktails

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4. Chardonnay Glass

White and rosé wines

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5. Burgundy Glass

Red wine

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6. Pilsner Glass

Lagers

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7. Old-Fashioned Glass

Drinks on the rocks

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8. Duvel Glass

Belgian strong ales and many craft beer

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Temperature

Lots of things happen to the way you experience wine when you chill it down. It will seem less sweet, less fruity and less aromatic, but its acidity, bitterness and any tannins will be amplified. Yes, it’s more refreshing, but is it worth the sacrifice? Serve a wine too warm, and it gives off plenty of aromas and alcohol but seems flabby and out of whack. The same is true of beer and spirits—the trick is to find the point at which the teeter-totter of temperature is perfectly balanced.
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Dos & Don'ts

We don’t mean to be bossy. If you like your beer at 35°F, go for it (though you might ask yourself why you drink beer you can’t taste). These tips will maximize your enjoyment.
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Tasty Brown Spirits

Master distillers and blenders nose and taste their creations at room temperature because chilling them diminishes the aromatics. And connoisseurs wouldn’t dream of warming a brandy snifter: the heat releases a whoosh of alcohol that numbs the olfactory system.

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Freezer Shots

Of course, sometimes you want a spirit right out of the freezer—icy cold, viscous and smooth. And there’s an exception to the previous dictum about brown spirits at room temperature: a shot of a light, unpeaty Scotch like Dalwhinnie served from the freezer smells of sherry casks and hay. Serve it with a slice of dark chocolate cake for a stunning dessert.

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How to Chilll

You can cool a bottle of wine or beer down in an ice bucket filled with water and ice much more quickly than if you put it in the fridge. In a bucket, the temperature of the liquid in the bottle drops by one degree every minute. So nine minutes takes a white wine from room temperature to perfection.


The Right Ice

Regular ice cubes are great for shaking up cocktails but melt too fast in a stirred cocktail or a drink served on the rocks. Invest in ice trays designed to make 2-inch cubes or spheres—there’s less dilution and they also look great. Use filtered water. Alternatively use “whisky stones” or other stone or steel cubes kept in the freezer.