There Are No Rules, There Are Only Possibilities!

23 Jun

I spent much of my teenage youth testing and stretching the rules. If you knew me back then, I’m sorry. If you still like me, then thank you for seeing the pearl in the proverbial oyster. As an adult, I know I’ve learned a lot from the mistakes I’ve made in my life and still have much more to learn. One of the important lessons I learned as a young child is that Our society is full of all kinds of rules. Laws, yes, but I mean social rules. As I got older, I learned that many of the social rules are easily broken, bent, ignored or excused. That is to say, they really don’t matter.

Wine is no different. There are all kinds of rules we learn, and then eventually unlearn as we gain insight and wisdom.

Here are a few hard and fast rules I was taught that I no longer believe:

-Not to refrigerate red wine. (I do it all the time to slow aging or to preserve a delicate red.) By the same token, if I’m drinking a white and it gets warm, I will not hesitate to drop an ice cube or frozen whiskey stone in my glass. Proper serving temperature can make a huge difference, and with whiskey stones, you don’t have to risk diluting your wine with water.

Champagne first! Served before the appetizer as a toast. It’s also lovely with dessert, or between courses, is a great palate cleanser, and the bubbles aid in digestion.

Dessert wine is served after the meal.  It’s actually best with a savory appetizer. Fois gras and Sauternes…need I say more?

The more expensive or rare a wine, the better it is. Maybe, sometimes. And other times, a $15 value bottle can blow away the $$$ really expensive bottle. But the inverse can also be true, and blind tastings have thrown the traditional beliefs out the window.

White wine with fish, red wine with meat. My lovely wife just doesn’t drink red. It aggravates her asthma. I have some friends who don’t care for white wines, and others who don’t care for any wine. Drink what you like, taste and try new things.

The  “aha!” moment that dispelled wine rules happened several years ago. I was working on a design with a close friend who suggested dinner at a lovely restaurant that specialized in Pacific Northwestern Cuisine. The evening special was cedar plank roasted sockeye salmon, and after we ordered it, the waiter highly suggested a Washington State pinot noir to complement the fish. I had carefully planned a Sauvignon Blanc from the list, and my face must have registered shock, as the waiter deftly and demurely suggested that he’d bring us both a taste (gratis) with the main course and then if we liked it, he’d bring either glasses or a bottle. It was my first time trying a red with fish, and it was an amazing pairing, far better than the glass of Sauv Blanc I’d gotten for the salad course. While I’ve long forgotten the name of the pinot noir, I’ve never forgotten the experience of having this rule plainly shattered.  Later on, I searched NY’s finer wine stores near me for the wine. While I never crossed paths with it again, the owners turned me to several lovely Northwestern wines I’d never have even considered prior to this experience.

à votre santé!


One Response to “There Are No Rules, There Are Only Possibilities!”

  1. Pat T. June 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    AMEN BROTHER! I usually chill my reds (and port, as well) for about 30 minutes before pouring. It helps take some of the edge off of bolder, high-tannin reds, allowing one to ease into them, exploring the depth of the wine, allowing each note to express itself briefly before being joined by another, and another, building into a beautiful crescendo as the wine reaches room temperature.

    As for pairing, what those nifty charts they sell in winery gift shops don’t tell you is WHY certain wines pair well with certain foods. The idea is one of balance…a delicate wine can’t compete with a strongly flavored food. Of course, the opposite is also true. The old “rules” also don’t take into account personal taste.

    The more I learn about wine, the more I “break” the rules. Or at the very least, seriously bend them. Good to see another wine lover with the same opinion! Not that I would have ever doubted ya, old friend!


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