red wine rules

Breaking the Red Wine Rules

Should you drink it warm or cold? Should you let a young red wine breathe? If you love Merlot, are you likely to like a Pinot Noir? Red wine can be tricky - but not if you chuck the rules out the window.

OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Don't throw ALL the rules away. But don't feel like you're doing it 'wrong' either. Here are a few tips for drinking red wine that you may not know.

Many reds like a bit of chill factor.

That rule about only serving red at room temperature? Very 20th century thinking - in part because room temperature depends entirely on the room you're standing in. When you're planning to drink a red, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes then bring it out to gently warm. As it warms, the taste becomes more alive.

Good red wines have screw caps too.

If you're about to open a Chateau Lafite Rothschild, yep, it'll probably have a cork. You'd expect that from the producer of the world's most expensive wine. But it's long been accepted now that screw caps are perfect for fresh wines - wines that can be drunk in under a year or two without being aged further in the bottle by the presence of a cork. Once the screw cap is on, the wine is sealed and ready to go. Added bonus: unlike wine in a corked bottle, a screw cap doesn't run the risk of the wine going off.

Red wine pairs with more than red meat.

If you have a wine you love, and a dish you love - enjoy them together. Try a lighter Pinot Noir with a delicate white fish, salmon, crayfish and mussels. Remember that acidity and tannins clash, so go for grilled fish with a tomato or bacon base rather than a citrussy sauce.

Opening the bottle 20 minutes before drinking enhances flavour. 

It's true that red wine benefits from some aeration, but just leaving a bottle to sit for a bit doesn't do anything. The neck of a wine bottle doesn't allow enough air to make contact with the wine. If you don't have a decanter, pour your red wine into a container with a wide opening at the top, like a glass jug, for 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, simply pour your wine into your glass and let it aerate.

Top tip: to get maximum aeration in your wine, pour into the centre of the glass so air touches the wine while you're pouring.