How to Serve Pinot Noir: 7 Serving and Storage Tips
by Jennifer Kristensen on Apr 18, 2023
Pinot noir is a light red wine with berry, fruity flavors, and smooth tannins. It’s a popular wine variety because it’s softer and more delicate than many reds but still delivers a bold and earthy flavor.
With notes of black cherry, raspberry, moss, mushroom, vanilla, and wood, it’s a complex taste that should be served appropriately.
We have a few tips on how to serve pinot noir to optimize your pinot noir red wine experience, including food and wine pairing ideas that will impress any wine lover.
1. Understand What You’re Serving
No matter what you serve your guests, you should understand it beforehand, whether it’s a high-end bottle of pinot noir or a complex French dish. Pinot noir is a light to medium-bodied red, making it ideal for informal occasions and casual dinners.
It’s not ideal as a pre-dinner or pre-meal drink because of its fruitiness, but it’s suitable to serve with dinner or as a post-dinner drink, also called an aperitif.
If you want to be the best host you can be, consider asking questions about the wine before buying it or doing some light research into the vineyard. Knowing the wine’s notes, dryness, and heft can help you enhance your guests’ drinking experiences.
2. Store in a Wine Cooler
Our top tip for storing pinot noir well is to keep it in a high-quality wine cooler. Wine coolers are specially designed to maintain and softly age wine without interrupting the maturation process.
A quality wine fridge will protect your wine bottles from UV exposure, improper temperatures, humidity changes, and subtle vibrations while storing them at the proper angle. A decent wine fridge is a must-have unless you have a stunning and well-maintained wine cellar.
Leaving your bottles on the kitchen counter can cause the wine to cook in the heat and sunlight or oxidize and take on a sour, unpleasant flavor.
3. Serve It Gently Chilled
Most people think the proper serving temperature for red wine is room temperature. This was true centuries ago when central heating was not around, and the average room temperature of an English home was around 50 to 60ºF.
But times have changed, and the average room temperature of a middle-class home is between 68ºF and 75ºF. So leaving your red wine out on the counter is no longer the best method of serving. The best temperature to serve pinot noir is 55ºF, so, yes, it should be served chilled.
To achieve this temperature, it should be kept in a wine fridge set to the right temperature. If you do not have a wine fridge, you can place it in your kitchen fridge for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Do not leave it in your kitchen fridge overnight, as it will likely become too cold.
4. Use the Right Glass
When serving pinot noir, you must use the perfect type of wine glass. The ideal glass for a pinot noir is a stemmed, bell-shaped red wine glass with a wide rim. The perfect glass will be slightly thinner than a burgundy wine glass but more round than a Bordeaux glass.
Serving pinot noir in a thin glass will prevent you from fully appreciating the fruity aroma and complex flavor profile. Do not under any circumstances chill the wine glasses before serving. A slightly warm pinot noir is more acceptable than a chilled wine glass for red wine, as the condensation can compromise the drinking experience.
Pinot noir etiquette dictates that you should always hold the glass by the stem to prevent your hand from warming the wine. This should go without saying, but you should only serve pinot noir in a wine glass.
5. To Decant or Not to Decant
Whether or not you should decant a bottle of red wine is up for debate. Most pinot noirs do not need to be decanted because they are already a light and palatable red wine. However, heavier pinot noirs can benefit from brief decanting, up to 20 minutes.
If you are unsure of the heaviness and fullness of your pinot noir, you can ask the wine seller or do some research online. The color can also help you assess the fullness. Darker pinot noirs will be heavier, while lighter-colored pinot noirs with more translucence.
If you’re unsure what to do, you can always drink a glass straight from the bottle and decide if you want it to be less acidic and softer or if it’s delicious.
6. Finish the Bottle within Three Days
Ideally, you should finish a bottle of pinot noir the same evening you open it. If not, it’s recommended to finish the bottle within 24 to 72 hours or discard it. If you use a wine dispenser, a single bottle of pinot noir can stay fresh for months! A wine dispenser is an excellent investment if you tend to be a one-and-done kind of wine drinker.
Without a wine dispenser, an open bottle of pinot noir will begin to sour after three days. To keep it as fresh as possible in between servings, recork the bottle and keep it in your wine cooler or kitchen fridge.
7. Use Thoughtful Pinot Noir Food Pairing Ideas
Our last tip for properly serving pinot noir is to pair it with foods that will bring out its flavor and complement the taste. If you’re still new to the world of wine, you may not fully understand how drastically the food you serve with wine can make or break the experience.
You can ruin both the food and wine if they do not go well together. To help you make the most out of your pinot noir, below is a list of how to pair pinot noir to make the most of its tasting notes.
- Cold meats (charcuterie, ham, prosciutto)
- Soft, nutty cheeses (taleggio, gruyere, brie, goat cheese)
- Patés and terrines
- Spring vegetables (peas, asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms)
- Gamey meats (lamb, venison, goat)
- Roasted meats (turkey, ham, goose, pork)
- Poultry meat (duck, chicken)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna)
Serve Pinot Noir Like a Pro
At first, all the etiquette and technicalities surrounding serving pinot noir and storing it can be overwhelming.
But with the right tools and appliances, like a wine cooler, dispenser, or decanter, it will become second nature in no time! Keep these tips in mind for your next dinner or party so that you can impress your guests with your infinite knowledge of wine.