How to Properly Pour Wine Without Spilling


There is more to the art of being a fine wine connoisseur than being able to tell your Cabernet Sauvignon from your Pinot Grigio. Do you know the difference by the way?

You need to practice and master the essential skills, tricks and techniques that go into making you flawless, from your wine tasting to your wine sharing and everything in between. One of the techniques you need to master is how to properly pour a glass of wine without spilling. And by this, we mean doing it not only without spilling a drop but also doing it with enough panache as to leave your guests impressed and appreciative of the treat.

(Did you know there’s also a correct way to hold the wine glass to?)

Why is this Skill Important to Learn?

Learning to pour wine without spilling is vital and admirable!

For starters, a wine bottle tend to be unwieldy and those inexperienced in the art often end up making a mess of the process. Wine, especially the vintage brands, is a costly beverage too and no drop should go to waste. Moreover, being able to pour out a glass of wine in one smooth motion and no spills is also an impressive feat which will add to your credentials as a discerning party host. You should also keep in mind that drops of wine, especially those of the red varieties, tend to leave stubborn stains on the table cloth.

3 Basics of Wine Pouring

Before you start to pour out wine, especially if you are serving many people, you need to get the basics of wine-pouring right. Here are the ones considered by many as elementary principles of wine pouring. Take a look!

The Standard Wine Pour

If you have ever watched an experienced wine server, sommelier, or bartender pour wine, you may have marveled at their ability to pour out what seems like an impossibly accurate amount in each glass every time. While it is something of an arbitrary amount, it is considered that a standard wine pour is about 5 ounces, equivalent to about 150 milliliters. Some restaurants and bars may pour even less than 5 fluid ounces, depending on the price of wine. The 5-ounce standard wine pour is practical as this means you end up getting 5 glasses from a 750 ml (25 oz) wine bottle. It is also considered just about the right amount for most people adhering to the principle of taking alcohol in moderation.

Before venturing into pouring wine, ensure you have mastered how the contents of 150 milliliters of liquid look like in a wineglass. Do this by pouring water into a wineglass. This will look considerably different depending on the type of wine glass you use.

Get the Wine Glass Right

Wine glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes (see a laundry list of them here). Some people find it hard to believe, but it has been proven that the taste of wine changes considerably when you use a different kind of glass to take it.  The shape and size of the wineglass bowl determine the extent of the wine surface that is exposed to air and how much of the aroma reaches your nose. This is why the largest and widest bowls are suited for red wines while white wines are usually served in wine glasses with smaller bowls. Champagne and sparkling wines are usually served in tall and narrow flutes, chiefly because it is important to have small a surface area of exposure to ensure you preserve as many of the bubbles in the liquid of the wine for as long as possible.

For red, rosé and white wines, the wine glass bowls are constructed in such a way that they ensure the standard pour takes the wine level up to the widest section of the bowl to allow maximum exposure. This is a bit different when it comes to fortified wines, sparkling wine and champagne.

Whether your glass has a stem or is stemless is also a significant factor in getting the standard pour of wine right. Stemmed glasses are the ideal choice as they not only make it easy to pour wine from a standing position (you do not have to lean forward too much) but are also the preferred choice for drinkers who don’t want to change the taste profile of their wine because the warmth in their hands heat up the wine through the glass.

Pour Wine at the Right Temperature

Even a slight increase or drop in the temperature impacts on the tastes and aromas associated with fine wine. This is because the delicate aromatic compounds that give the different flavors of wine their distinct taste will either be subdued completely at low temperatures or burn off too quickly in higher temperatures. Moreover, if the wine is too cold or too warm, this impacts how well it flows from the bottle, increasing or reducing the risk of making a spill.

Review more details on the best temperatures for serving both red wine and white wine here. There’s a lot more to learn than you thought!

The Art of Pouring Wine— Step By Step

The procedure you need to follow to avoid spills and drips as you pour your wine is a bit counter-intuitive. With this in mind, here is a step-by-step process to pour wine into a glass without spilling a drop. Remember to always keep a napkin or paper towels handy just in case you need to wipe the mouth of the wine bottle clean before doing the next pour. You can also use a napkin to rest the glass on in order to catch any accidental drops.

  1. Hold the bottle with the label facing outward. This is not essential in ensuring the wine does not spill. However, it is considered polite to let people see what kind of wine you are pouring with ease.
  2. Ensure the glass is on the table. If you hold it in your hand, the possibility of making a spill increases and you may not get the standard wine pour down pat. Moreover, the heat in your hands may change the taste and freshness of the wine
  3. Hold the wine bottle in one hand and look directly into the wineglass as you pour
  4. Do not perform the intuitive motion of gradually lifting the bottle and limiting the flow to a trickle as you near the standard pour level on the glass. This may be the intuitive motion you perform when pouring out milk or water, but from a wine bottle, this is actually the chief reason inexperienced hands make spills. Instead, stop pouring quickly and deliberately by twisting the bottle away from your body and lifting the neck away from the glass in one fell swoop.

Accessories for Pouring Wine

If you think getting the procedure for pouring wine correctly is too much of a hassle, you can consider purchasing some accessories to help you get the standard amount into a wineglass without spilling a drop. You may use a wine bottle coaster to catch any accidental spills and drops before they hit the tablecloth. There is also a selection of drip collars you can slide over the neck of the bottle for the same purpose. Other people prefer attaching standard wine pourers to the neck of the bottle to guide the wine directly into the glass. All these devices can be obtained from the same place you buy your standard wine equipment and accessories.

Wine Pouring

There is an art to pouring wine without spilling a drop. You are not only required to get to grips with what is the standard pour for wine but also choose your wineglass right and ensure the wine is at the right temperature for serving before you pour. Always follow the recommended steps for pouring wine into wine glasses and you will find yourself getting it right down pat every time.

You can also opt for some accessories which guarantee you don’t spill a drop or catch any spills that happen. But, as you will find out after some practice, the smooth and effortless motion experienced sommeliers use is not as mysterious as it seems at first glance.

Think you have a shot at pouring wine correctly now? Go ahead, give it a shot and come back here to let us know if you’ve been successful or if you left red spots all over your new blouse (hopefully that’s not the case).

With that said, we’ll see you next time around Wine On my Time. Be sure to share this with a horrible wine pourer so they can learn how to do it properly. And read more guides here if you’re interested, cheers!

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