Wade Cothran | Oct 09, 2020
5 Wine Rules That Were Made to be Broken
Wine is one of life’s simplest pleasures. You sit back, you pour a glass, and you enjoy the flavors and aromas. What could be more straightforward than that? As such, it always somewhat amazes us just how much certain people - and especially certain sectors of the wine-drinking world - wish to complicate the whole matter, and come up with rules, regulations, and ways of drinking that somehow fall into the categories of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
Can you think of any other food or drink that comes with so many rules? It’s a curious phenomenon which is reserved almost exclusively for wine, and for many of us, it’s a real source of annoyance that anyone would feel they have the right to dictate rules upon what is, essentially, a personal and subjective experience.
That’s not to say that every wine ‘rule’ is complete nonsense, nor is it to say that some of the basic wine rules might be helpful to newbies. Rather, we’re saying that you should trust your own senses above anybody else’s, and to not let yourself be restricted by outdated traditions, snobbery, or misguided ideas of what you - or anybody else - should enjoy.
With that in mind, we’ve picked out some of the established ‘wine rules’ that really belong in the dustbin of history, and which are just crying out to be debunked, broken, and forgotten. Never forget: wine is one of life’s greatest and simplest pleasures. Let’s keep it that way!
Wine Rule #1: You Can Only Pair Fish With White Wine
This is one of the most well-known wine rules out there, and it’s the one that even people who don’t typically drink wine or attempt to pair wine with food will tend to stick to. It’s also one of the stupidest and easily debunked wine rules, simply due to the fact that there are loads of great fish dishes out there that are much better suited to red wine than white.
There’s an interesting reason for this wine rule’s existence, however. So many of our ideas of what wine is and how it should be enjoyed are based in 19th-century French rules of cooking, drinking, and etiquette - France really does have a lot to answer for when it comes to the more pretentious and outdated aspects of the wine world.
The classic French fish dishes tend to revolve around silky fillets of delicate white fish, traditionally cooked in herbed butter or brine sauces… and yes, we’ll happily admit that these typically pair best with delicate and dry white wines. However, if you’re looking to enjoy meatier, fattier fish, such as roasted salmon, seared tuna, or fish steaks of kingfish, shark, or swordfish, those delicate white wines would quickly get lost on your palate, and a light red, such as Pinot Noir or Sangiovese, would be far more appropriate.
Wine Rule #2: Different Wines Need Different Glasses
It probably comes as no surprise to discover that the idea there are different glass shapes and sizes for Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rioja, Sauvignon Blanc and all the rest was a concept originally dreamt up by a wine glass manufacturing company. That’s right - the esteemed Riedel glassware company first launched the connoisseur’s collection of different shaped wine glasses back in the 1970s and spent a lot of time and energy spreading the myth that these glasses were both based on traditional drinking vessels (they weren’t) and had the ability to heighten the flavors and aromas of the wine (they didn’t).
Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t buy different glasses for your different wines if that’s your thing: there is, we’d admit, something pleasantly ritualistic about the practice. However, it’s fairly obvious that a basic wine glass is going to do the job just fine, and a BrüMate glass is the right choice for those looking for something insulated.
Wine Rule #3: Wines Gets Better As They Age
Yes, this is a myth, despite popular opinion and the commonly held belief that wines improve with time. The number of wines which are destined for bottle or cellar aging is in a tiny minority - probably around 1% of all bottles - and the vast majority will most definitely deteriorate over time rather than improve.
It’s only really the high-end, complex, and very expensive wines of esteemed regions like Bordeaux and Rioja which are destined for locking away and aging through the decades… and even then, most of these probably don’t get a whole lot better with age, and many of them won’t even be drunk; they’ll be auctioned off every few years as reliable investments, and then stuffed away in another dusty cellar. Most red and white wines will be aged by the winery for an optimum amount of time (the process helps smooth down the wine’s rougher edges and harsher tannins), and then should be drunk within a month or two of purchase.
Wine Rule #4: Only Aged Red Wines Should be Decanted
Decanters are great. They look beautiful, they help you keep sediment out of your glass, and they give your wine the opportunity to breathe and oxidize before sipping, allowing the depths of flavor and aroma a chance to shine. Quite why so many people believe they’re only for aged red wines is, frankly, a bit of a mystery.
All wines benefit from a bit of breathing before drinking, even your delicate whites and sparkling wines, and decanting allows you to appreciate the color and beauty of your wine as a centerpiece of a dining table… and that’s never a bad thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Wine Rule #5: Only Cook With Quality Wine
This is quite an interesting wine rule, as it seems to have become more prevalent in recent years with the rise of cooking shows on TV, hosted by celebrity chefs who have a tendency to be a bit pretentious and out of touch with everyday wine drinkers in the wider world. I mean, why on Earth would you pour half a bottle of high-quality wine into your stew?
It’s a massive waste, and actually makes no sense when you consider that all of the secondary and tertiary notes, subtle flavors and aromas, will immediately be lost as soon as that wine starts bubbling and boiling away. Essentially, by cooking with quality wine, you’re immediately cooking off everything that makes that wine special in the first place!
While we’d agree it’s best not to use the cheapest, roughest wines - or, god forbid, anything labeled ‘cooking wine’ - in your stews and braises, you really don’t have to reach for the good stuff when in the kitchen. Cooking with wine is really all about deepening those fruity and acidic notes in your food, and your supermarket standard fare is absolutely fine for those purposes. Save the expensive stuff for your glasses and guests!
There you go - five wine rules which are just begging to be broken! Here at BrüMate, we want your wine to taste its best. After all, wine is one of those pleasures that deserves attention to detail, and serving temperature is absolutely a key aspect of enjoyment. That’s why we created our stunning and eye-catching range of insulated wine glasses, which not only look beautiful but which ensure every sip is as good as the last!