Five Wine ‘Rules’ That Are Begging to be Broken!

The world of wine is an endlessly fascinating place, and here at Wine Box Republic, we love nothing more than exploring it and uncovering new favourites, or returning to those bottles that never let us down. However, it can be a strange and complicated place, too, with far too many rules and regulations for revolutionaries like us!

In fact, wine is almost totally unique when it comes to food and drink, due to the fact that it really does come with a long list of things which you supposedly should or shouldn’t do when drinking, tasting, or cooking with our favourite tipple. A lot of these rules have stuck around for decades – centuries even – and all too often, we just nod along and agree with them, without ever really thinking about whether or not they still make sense.

For example, I have a lovely set of stemless wine tumblers at home, and I quite often enjoy sipping at a good Riesling or Gruner Veltliner out of them. A friend recently reacted with a strange mixture of horror and bemusement at my choice of glassware – could I really be drinking white wine from a stemless glass? Wouldn’t the heat from my hands warm the liquid within, and thus utterly ruin my drinking experience? Naturally, I pointed out that my hands really aren’t that hot, and anyway, even if the wine changed temperature by half a degree or so, it wasn’t really going to wreck the whole drink for me.

Even though my friend realised how daft they’d sounded, the idea that we must – absolutely must – follow these regulations to the letter is pretty pervasive, and might it might even be interrupted our enjoyment of wine and how we use it. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at 5 wine ‘rules’ which are just begging to be broken. Get ready to smash the system, stick it to the man, and learn to follow your instincts… and to ignore some of the dusty, outdated ideas that still float around the world of wine!

1. You Shouldn’t Serve Red Wine With Fish

Let’s start with the big one, shall we? The idea that you can only serve white wine with fish is a wine rule which even those who don’t drink or cook seem to know about, so common is this misconception. This particular rule, and the way people stick by it, really does show how unimaginative and risk-averse some wine fans can be… and it’s high time it got stamped out for good.

For sure, white wine and fish – especially delicate, lightly fried fish, or fish in cream sauces – is a match made in paradise. But we should never say never, and it’s well worth checking out some awesome red wine and fish combos out there that can be equally delicious. Lighter-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir, or even something like a Sangiovese or Tempranillo, can work really well with meatier fish dishes, like roasted salmon, kingfish, swordfish or shark. Also, fish cooked in tomato sauce really calls out for a decent red wine, and seared tuna steak with a Loire red is my idea of heaven. The Spanish love serving shellfish stews with red wine, and they know a thing or two about food and wine pairing. Don’t follow the crowd, follow your taste buds instead!

2. White Wines Should be Served Very Cold

Another pervasive myth, here. Too much chilling causes the flavours of all wines to flatten on the palate, and you simply won’t get the full taste sensation the vintner intended if you drink your whites straight from the fridge. We’d always advise leaving your favourite Pinot Gris or Semillon to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving – you’ll really notice the difference when it comes to the flavours and aromas released in the glass.

Connected to this is the idea that red wines should always be served at room temperature (or worse, slightly warm). Some reds really benefit from a bit of chilling, especially lighter-bodied bodies which can be beautifully refreshing on a warm day.

3. You Should Only Cook With Great Wine

This is a strange rule, and one which seems to have popped up more recently via the medium of flashy cooking shows on TV. Celebrity chefs nowadays all love to tell us that you should only be cooking for good quality wine… and it’s left us a little confused.

There’s no way I’m going to tip half of my $50 bottle of Bordeaux into a stew, or stir my favourite Gavi di Gavi into my chicken gravy – it just seems like an appalling waste of good wine. When you cook with vino, the alcohol and the tannins disappear pretty quickly, and all that is going to be left is the fruit flavour, a bit of acidity, and some of the aromas. Cooking with wine is a great way to boost your sauces and add a bit of tasty volume… but you absolutely don’t need to use top quality bottles in order to achieve great results. Save the good stuff for sharing and drinking with your friends, and get some affordable plonk in for cooking with instead.

4. Rosé is for Summer Only

This one really bugs me. Sales of rosé wine plummet in the winter months, and it is simply just assumed that this delicious and underrated wine style simply isn’t meant for the days when the weather gets a little colder. Not only is this a bit silly – I mean, we don’t stop drinking white wines in the colder half of the year – it also massively underestimates the amazing range of rosé wine there is in the world.

From the pale pink and delicate bottles of Provence, to the richer, deeper and more intense Californian bottles (and thousands of shades and flavours in between), there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be drinking rosé wine all year round. If you’re a fan – as we are – of lovely pink wines, then don’t let anyone dictate to you when you should or shouldn’t enjoy them!

5. Decanters Are Only For Full-Bodied, Aged Reds

There’s plenty of debate out there regarding whether or not we really need decanters at all, but that’s another blog post for another day. Personally, we love our decanters. They give you a chance to show off your wine, to appreciate its colour and beauty. What’s more, they play a vital role in allowing your wine to open up and breathe before serving, thus allowing all those delicious flavours and aromas to come forth on the palate. Why people think this should only be reserved for full-bodied and aged bottles of Bordeaux or Barolo is frankly impossible to understand, as all wines benefit from some slight oxidising in the air before drinking.

If you’re drinking an aged red wine which has a lot of sediment, then decanters can certainly be useful for avoiding the gritty stuff at the bottom of the bottle from getting into your glass – this is partly the reason decanters were invented in the first place, after all. However, there’s nothing wrong with serving any red wine in a decanter, and if you like to look at your Riesling and Chardonnay (both of which definitely benefit from a little breathing), then don’t let anyone stop you from decanting them. Your house, your rules!


So, there you have it – five wine rules which are just begging to broken. We’ve no doubt that there are plenty more outdated regulations out there which deserve a good smashing, so let us know in the comments your thoughts on these contentious conditions!

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