When it comes to wine, what are the rules, if any? Lincoln Riley (pictured), head sommelier at Federation Square's Taxi Dining Room in Melbourne, says that while wine is there to be enjoyed and should not be boxed in by a set of rules, there are a few tips to help. When it comes to temperature, he says white wines should not always be served super-chilled, and that some reds could be served cooler than they are.
"Generally, aromatics like sauvignon blanc are perfect (when) chilled - as is riesling and pinot grigio - whereas its cousin, pinot gris, is more a textural wine and is better not chilled, to show off its texture. Chardonnay should be served just cooler than room temperature," he says. "With red wines, give pinot noir a little burst in the fridge to bring it to 13 to 14 degrees. Over a really hot weekend, I would suggest that pretty much any red at home could do with 10 minutes in the fridge."
Riley explains that decanting aerates a wine, which is beneficial for youthful wines. "And that's not a price-point-reflective thing, either," he says. "If you've got a 2007 Heathcote shiraz, a rough tumble through a decanter is perfect to get air running through it. White wines don't normally get a run through decanters - but they're just the same as reds and benefit from opening up. The don't is with older wines - they don't like to be shaken about too much. If you're dealing with a 30 to 40-year-old wine, you can lose a lot of the flavour and wash the wine out."

Is a $35 wine better than a $15? It's impossible to judge on price alone. "The only real way to judge a wine is by tasting it," Riley observes. "You would hope that you get better value with a wine when more is invested in it, but it's not always the case. Sometimes we can be paying for the fact that the wine is hard to procure, is from a small vineyard or came from 13,000 miles away, but there are many factors that drive the price points up that aren't necessarily to do with its quality."

It may look professional, but does it do anything? "Cork can give you an indicator that maybe you should have a closer scrutiny of the wine," Riley says. "But the rule of thumb is - regardless of closure - the best way to grade a wine is to smell and taste it. If you think the cork smells a little musty or off-putting, you're still going to have to taste it to find out for sure."
When it comes to the general handling of wine, show respect. Make sure it's stored in a cool, dark place and the bottle is lying down, especially if the wine is corked sealed - this ensures the cork won't dry out. "But when it comes to food and wine matches, don't typecast a wine," Riley says. "Don't assume reds wouldn't go with fish. Try a pinot noir with salmon. Do experiment. We can all take it a little bit too seriously sometimes. It's supposed to be fun."