The shape of the wine bottle generally tells you whether the wine should be drunk young or allowed to age. Wine in a tapered bottle, such as white wines, should be drunk young—if more than 4 years old, it may be over-the-hill. Wines in a non-tapered bottle, such as cabernet sauvignon, should be aged (generally 5 years plus) to lessen the harsh taste of tannin.

When cooking with wine, sherry, cognac, etc., never use a spirit that you wouldn't drink—the flavor of the spirit is transferred to the food.

Serve white wines and champagne chilled; serve red wines, sherry and Madeira at room temperature; serve cognac slightly warmed.

Generally white wines compliment white meats (such as chicken) and fish; red wines compliment red meats.

Always store unopened wine away from the sunlight in a horizontal position. Sunlight can damage the wine. If not stored horizontally, the cork can dry out.

Red wine has a tendency to throw a sediment and generally should be decanted. When removing the wine from its horizontal position, handle with care to prevent mixing the sediment with the wine. Decant the bottle with enough light so that you can see the sediment as your are pouring. Stop pouring before the sediment is also poured.