• EV

Wine Etiquette? I Don't Know Her

Updated: Apr 29

When it comes to the vast world of wine, you may be subscribing to certain protocols without even realizing it. It's been presented as common knowledge simply because these have been the "rules" since the dawn of wine time. But have we ever stopped to think...why? Why can't I put an ice cube in my wine? Why can't I pair my red wine with fish? Why can't I drink Rose in the dead of winter?!

The answer is...you can. A lot of the rules that were put in place were for external reasons (aka money), not because it actually enhanced the flavor of the wine. (Like the age old cork vs. screw cap debate).

It's fun to have rules when it actually makes your wine better. And I'm not here on a soap box to tell you to disregard any rule you've ever heard about wine. But for me, and I would argue to say most wine drinkers, enjoying your vino is more about the experience. As long as you're having a good time, who cares if you're breaking every rule in the book? (That was my life motto in sixth grade and it got me in a lot of trouble).

Below are some common myths surrounding the wine world, along with my best effort to dispel them.

You Can't Chill Your Red Wine

A common misconception is to always keep your red wine at room temperature. Most think that only Rose or white wine should be chilled once you buy it. And while this may be partially true, it's not a tried and true fact to stand by. In fact, it's encouraged to chill most, if not all, red wine to an extent.

Chilling your red wine mostly affects its tannins. Serving your wine at room temperature will soften the overall taste of the wine flavors and significantly bring out the alcohol. But if you chill that same wine even a tad, say to 55-60 degrees, the overall structure will become a lot tighter. Since chilling your wine dulls the alcohol sensation, it severely increases the tannic notes. This could result in a much more astringent flavor to the drink.

Thin-skinned reds such as Pinot Noir typically have very few tannins, making it a great red wine choice to chill before enjoying. Wines that are more fruit-forward are also an excellent option for chilling, as those fruity notes can often go overshadowed by the wine's alcohol when served at room temperature.

Get this: At the end of the day, almost no wine, red or white, benefit from a room temperature serving. So, what it comes down to is personal preference. If chilled red is what tastes good to you, go ahead and drink it. Que sera...syrah.

Corked Bottles Are Better in Value than Screw Caps

This is my favorite wine myth to dispel. It is such a widely discussed topic, and I'm sure you've heard the argument before. People love to brag that their corked wine tastes a million times better than their lowly counterpart, the *screw cap.* And yet, this reputation rumor is 100% untrue. It's like that time that we were told that MSG was super bad for us so we went on thinking that every time we ate Chinese food we would die. But in reality, it's no worse than any other ingredient, and there was no science to back up how "bad it was" for you. The screw cap vs. corked bottle myth is in the exact same vein. In fact, screw caps might actually be better for your wine in some cases. Hear me out.

Portugal is the world's main cork supplier. And they've been experiencing a cork shortage for a long time now. Ipso-facto, they started distributing their best cork to the most highly regarded wine countries starting with France and making their way down. Did you guys see the movie The Platform on Netflix? Where all the rich people on level 1 got the nice food, and every level below them got worse and worse scraps? It was just like that. So, similar to the kid that was picked last in dodgeball, Australia and New Zealand found themselves ending up with the shitty cork that no one wanted. Bad cork is a huge liability for your product, as it can easily dissolve and fall into your wine. So our Oceanic friends had to get creative.

Even with this incredible solution, the screw cap wasn't acceptable until a number of years later. It entered the wine game late, and wasn't widely popular until 2000. The revolution slowly grew from there, and nowadays 99 percent of Australian wine is bottled under screw cap. Other countries like the USA later followed suit because it was cheaper, easier to manufacture, and, as we just learned, affects the wine taste in no way. Several tests were performed on these screw cap bottles before distribution, and each time they found no difference in the taste or quality of wine.

Isn't that something?! In the future, I want to do a whole blog post on the various ways to seal your wine, but for now we'll leave it at that. So the next time your snotty friend who thinks they know a whole lot about fine wine refuses to drink a screw cap bottle, you can hit 'em with this little nugget of knowledge.

You Can't Pair Red Wine with Fish

One of my all time favorite Parks and Rec moments is when the crew snuck into a sommelier certification test, and Billy Eichner's character takes it way too seriously. He's getting quizzed by one of the fellow sommelier's, and the man asks him, "...and what would you pair with this wine?" Crazy Craig calmly answers something like, "I would perhaps pair this with a nice steak or juicy burger" to which the sommelier responds, "how about a fish?" At which point, Billy Eichner immediately loses it, screaming "not with red wine YA LOON!"

This scene cracks me up because it's not Crazy Craig's fault! He's just leaning into the age-old pairing guidelines that he was used to hearing. Wine and food pairing rules are often misguided and hard to pin down to an exact science. That's because of a crazy thing that humans possess called differing opinions. What tastes like an amazing combo to you could be terrible for the person sitting next to you.

Feel free to experiment with wine and food pairings. You might have a few misses, sure, but you could also end up with an extremely satisfying combo that you wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

And as far as the fish and red wine pairing mystery - you can pair tons of red wine with various fish. For real. Like most pairings, it comes down to the texture and style of the fish itself. To get you started, Pinot Noir is an excellent option for the red wine lover. It's lighter in body than most reds, and lighter wines pair nicely with a lighter dish, like seafood. Try it the next time you have your Friday Fish Fry.

You Shouldn't Put Ice in Your Wine

We now know that we can essentially chill any wine that our hearts desire. But is it kosher to add an ice cube to your glass after it's poured? Or is that a totally amateur move?

My personal response is...sort of. Now don't get me wrong, I am still here to tell you to do whatever you want with your wine tasting experience. We're here to break the rules, not follow them. And I will keep reiterating that theme for as long as I need to. It's pretty much the over-arching idea behind my whole blog. BUT I will present the counterargument that ice in your wine does deplete the taste. It's like watering down any alcohol, it's bound to change the overall flavor, whether that's a good thing or not.

But I will admit, I put ice in my white wine all the time. All the time. I think white wine tastes better when it's chilled. And sometimes you get home from the grocery store after a long day and you just wanna crack that sucker open immediately. Room temperature white just doesn't do it for me when I'm casually sipping.

So really what it comes down to is the experience you're having while drinking your wine. If you're just doing a casual night in, watching your favorite show, and you want a colder wine, absolutely add a cube to that vino. But if you want to spend some time smelling and tasting each note of said wine, skip the ice cube. It makes it a lot harder to extract those flavors if it's overpowered by a cooler temperature.

Wine is Seasonal

You might have heard that you can only drink red in the winter, and white wine in the summer. That rumor is mostly chalked up to the body, or mouth-feel of the differing wines, and the dishes you eat during those seasons. Red wine is often heavier and more robust, making it more enjoyable during the colder months. Whereas, white wine is lighter in body and higher in acid, perfect for enjoying on your porch on a scorching hot day.

But honestly, I have no facts, stories, or data to back up this myth. Just drink what you want, when you want. Life is short! Don't choke down some white wine if you hate it just because it's the middle of summer. Plus, The Bachelor franchise typically runs like nine months out of the year, and we all drink red wine with our rose ceremonies, right?

What are some wine myths that you need clarity on? Let me know in the comments below!

Oh and just a friendly reminder to fricken' vote y'all.

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