There aren't many foods or drinks which come with their own set of rules. Nowadays, you'd have to go to some pretty exclusive and snooty dinner parties if you wanted to find people to pick you up on your choice of ketchup or mayonnaise for your chips, or for starting a cheese board with the roquefort, and not the brie... Wine, on the other hand, seems to come with bagfuls of rules, regulations, guidelines and suggestions, which can make it an unnecessarily irritating sphere to navigate if you aren't clued up on various bits of outdated etiquette.
I mean, I get it - wine rules are sometimes helpful when we're in a bit of a pinch, and aren't sure what to choose or how to behave in certain situations. But who ever had a truly great time by staying close to the regulations?
Here are five common wine rules and bits of received wisdom which need to be consigned to the bin of history!
Rule 1: Don’t cook with wine which you wouldn’t choose to drink
Weirdly, this 'rule' seems to have been everywhere recently. Watch most cookery shows - especially around Christmas time - and the chefs on the tv will be telling you to chuck a good glug of your $50 Bordeaux into your gravy... doesn't that strike you as a bit of a waste?
You can and absolutely should use wine in your cooking. It's a fantastic ingredient for fortifying pasta sauces, bulking up broths and braising liquids, as well as for adding volume to other recipes.
But the main function of adding wine to your cooking is to bring an element of depth, acidity or fruitiness to a dish - the alcohol cooks off quite quickly, and the wine ends up being a reduction which actually bears little resemblance to the original substance.
The principal notes are left behind, but all those complexities, subtleties and other factors that would make the original wine worth spending money on will disappear into the ether. We say, save your good wine for the glasses of you and your guests, and use something a bit cheap 'n' cheerful for the cooking pot instead.
Rule 2: Rosé is only for the summer months
Make no mistake - there are few things I love more than a good glass (or bottle, let's be honest...) of rosé wine in the middle of summer. Sitting out on the grass somewhere, soaking up the heat with a cooling bottle of something pink and delicate from the fields of Provence is one of life's unadulterated pleasures, as far as I'm concerned.
However, sales of rosé plummet as soon as the best months of the year are over, and it's a bit of a mystery as to why this happens. Rosé is by no means just for summer, and actually, it's as wide-ranging, varied and fascinating as any other style of wine out there.