For the oenophile, it’s a given that wines are a delicate nectar, and, as such, need to be handled in the right way. However, for those who tend to purchase the cheap stuff, or simply aren’t accustomed to terminology such as “tannins” or “varietal”, navigating the dos and dont’s of vino etiquette may prove tricky.
Which is why we’ve called upon the help of award-wining wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd to tell us about the biggest wine crimes that are being committed. From putting a spoon in Champagne to pairing your vintages with cheese, these are the mistakes to avoid in order to maximise your Merlot.
Myth: Red wine should be served at room temperature
When this rule was introduced in the late 19th century, it was, in general terms, correct; however, this was an era lacking in heated homes and gargantuan Dyson devices aimed to elevate an interior’s mercury levels. As a result, what we consider room temperature is far warmer than what our Victorian predecessors believed it to be.
To avoid any half-mulled tipples, keep an eye on your thermostat and make sure your “red wine isn’t served over 20 degrees (and lighter style wines like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir can be cooler still)”, according to Berry Bros & Rudd.
Myth: Open the bottle to let it breathe
Simply uncorking that Sangiovese in order to let it “breathe” isn’t going to be effective, because the bottle’s narrow neck won’t allow much air to enter. Instead, put that LSA crystal decanter of yours into good use. Why? “Because this increases the surface area exposed to air,” say the experts.
And if you really want to look like a cocksure connoisseur, then “pour a little wine into a glass, replace the cork or screw cap and swirl the bottle a little to aerate your tipple in order to release all its flavours and aromas.”
Myth: Cheese and wine are the perfect pairing
Like oysters and Champagne, or Hall and Oates, cheese and wine is widely considered as one of the most perfect pairings in the world.
However, as is the case with lots of marriages, not everything runs smoothly, despite what others may say. “Not all cheese goes well with wine! Heavy textured and strong-tasting cheeses overpower the tongue’s ability to fully enjoy the richness and balance of a good wine. Pair cheese and wine carefully,” say our go-to connoisseurs.
Myth: Serious wines are always sealed with cork
Besides finding that perfectly-fitted pair of denim or not leaving the barber with a sub-par chop, few things are as satisfying as hearing the pop when the cork is liberated from the bottle neck. It’s soul-soothing and downright addictive. So, surely a bottle with a cork equals better value? Right? Wrong.
“This is generally the case, as cork has long dominated the market as the preferred closure for its ability to allow small amount of oxygen into the wine; but it’s a fallacy to think that wines don’t mature well under screw-cap as many very high quality wines now use this method of sealing.”
Myth: Putting a spoon in a bottle of Champagne keeps it fizzy
This popular trick is more urban myth than truth – let’s call it fake news, for 2018’s sake. The idea is that the spoon (or fork) will cool the air inside the bottle and will therefore keep the fizz fresh. However, you don’t even need to utilise your cutlery as “an open bottle of Champagne will keep some fizz while it’s in the fridge for several days after opening.”
Or, if you’re super concerned about your bubbles popping, then “invest in a stopper with a vacuum seal”. And, if that doesn’t work for you, just simply finish your tipple ASAP – after all, that’s not a bad task to be dealt with, is it?
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