20 Wine Myths: Setting The Records Straight
Winemaking involves a lot of processes that affect a wine’s chemical and nutritional composition. Different producers also incorporate their various styles to achieve a certain quality.
Because wine is such as broad and quite complicated topic, it’s no wonder why wine myths emerge here and there. It’s easy to perceive these notions as true because they make sense at first glance, but the problem is they tend to treat wines as exclusive in a certain area.
In this post, we’ll clear things up about wine so you’ll have a wider and better perspective on it, which will also help you enjoy it more. Let’s start!
Old wines have long been prized on the market. Many people know that a classic 1982 Chateau Margaux is the best wine money can buy, but the notion that all wines get better with age or that aged wine is better is false. In reality, it boils down to preference.
Some wines are created to be consumed young, especially as soon as they are released. A bottle of excellent young wine is the finest option if someone wants a beverage that is designed to be crisp, light, fresh, and acidic.
The type of grape, its region, how challenging it is to grow, and the usage of specific, time-consuming, low-yielding winemaking procedures are elements that affect the quality of a bottle of wine and, consequently, its price.
Sure, expensive wines are valuable in terms of flavor and reputation, but cheap wines are also enjoyable. Some wineries use less expensive and more efficient techniques while maintaining the quality they want, so they can make accessible wines.
Taste is subjective, anyway, so it really comes down to your personal preference. If you discover a $10 bottle of wine that you adore, there should be nothing to stop you from savoring it. And if you have an expensive wine, you still have to judge its taste to determine if it’s worth the price.
Related: Cheap Vs. Expensive Wine
Closeup of the back label of wine - Image by Bauerhaus
Sulfites are an integral part of wine that either occur naturally during fermentation or are added by winemakers to aid in preservation. One of the most common wine myths is that sulfites cause headaches, but this has been put to rest.
Sulfites are generally safe for most wine drinkers, but some people are allergic to them. They can increase allergy or asthma symptoms but are not connected to headaches.
The more convincing culprit of headaches are the histamines and alcohol in wine which can dilate the blood vessels in the brain. Tannins, which provide color and flavor to the wine, may also cause headaches in some people because they trigger the release of serotonin.
Wines have a lot of variety, so they may also have different serving temperatures. Red wines are commonly often at room temperature because it releases their rich flavors and pronounced aromas. However, this concept does not apply to all red wines.
For example, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is made from the first grapes harvested yearly, giving it a delicate flavor akin to white wines, and is best served chilled. You can also chill light or medium-bodied, low-tannin wines and those made from Pinot Noir.
Related: How To Chill Wines Fast
Wine legs, sometimes known as "tears of a wine" by the French, are the streaks of wine that cling to the glass's sides after swirling. Anyone who has attended a wine tasting can attest that this is a popular fallacy.
Most people believe they are related to a wine's flavor, sweetness, or viscosity. In truth, wine legs only reveal a wine's level of alcohol. Higher ABV wines evaporate more quickly, leaving streaks or legs on the wine glass.
Related: How To Throw A Wine Tasting Party
Spoon in a bottle of Champagne - Image by The Kitch
According to urban legend, if you hang a silver spoon with the handle facing down in the neck of a bottle of sparkling wine and then keep it in the refrigerator, the sparkling wine will maintain its fizz for several days.
People believe that the metal spoon will absorb warm air around the bottle's opening while in the refrigerator. Apparently, cold air is denser than warm air, the density difference between the two should cause the carbon dioxide to be trapped by the spoon.
We wish it were this easy and cheap, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. We suggest using a high-quality stopper to reseal the bottle and keep it cold and preserve your sparkling wine.
Related: Storing Opened Champagne
Let's face it: When we read the word "organic" on a product's label, we automatically believe that it is completely healthy, and we bulk up on items of this nature. This may also imply that they don’t give hangovers. As awesome as that would be, it pains us to know that this isn’t real.
The wine being organic has nothing to do with hangovers. It is actually alcohol, which organic wine also has, that causes hangovers. If one has consumed a lot of alcohol, it may lead to dehydration, troubled sleep, inflammation, and more, making hangovers worse.
If you want to avoid hangovers, we suggest you go old school - don't indulge too much or opt for non-alcoholic wines.
Related: How To Prevent Hangovers
Sulfites or sulfur dioxide are usually added to wine as a preservative. But even if a winemaker leaves this step out, the wine will still have sulfites because they are a by-product of fermentation.
Since organic wines are not used with chemicals, they don’t have “added” sulfites. However, they still contain naturally occurring sulfites, like all wines.
Related: The Best Organic Red Wines
Blended wines may be thought of as bad because they are not “pure.” But if you come to think of it, you will be enjoying the aromas, flavors, and characteristics of more than one varietal in one drink! It’ll be like having a burst of complex flavors in your mouth!
It takes effort and talent to create a harmonious blend of different varietals, which means the beauty of winemaking is also experienced through a blended wine. However, this is not to say that varietal wines are boring. Both kinds are accepted and well-loved by many wine enthusiasts!
At the end of the day, preference still wins over any belief. Here are some wine blends we recommend: Bordeaux Blend, Port Blend, Champagne Blend, and GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro) Blend.
Related: Wine Blending Guide
The stigma surrounding screw cap closures has led many to believe that wines sealed with them are of lower quality. Corks are conventional, but they don’t always indicate better quality.
Most premium New World wines today utilize screw caps, and their quality is not reduced because of their seal. Many producers use or have switched to screw caps because they are significantly less expensive than corks.
Screw caps are also said to be better at keeping the wine fresh because they prevent oxidation from accelerating compared to corks that may break down and contaminate the wine.
A decanter exposes the wine to oxygen, allowing it to "breathe" or enhance its aromas, flavors, and complexity. Its price may say something about its quality, appearance, and durability, but it doesn’t say much about how efficiently it functions.
It would make more sense if you chose the ideal decanter based on the shape and size. If you want optimum aeration, go for ones with a wide base and neck.
This way, more air may flow in to speed up the aeration process, it allows more of the wine's surface to be in contact with the air, and it’s easier to clean up!
Related: The Best Wine Decanters
People normally pair red wine with steaks and white wines with fish. While this is a common and safe pairing rule, it isn’t exclusive. You can go beyond this and try which food works best with your favorite wines.
For instance, light red wines like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir pair splendidly with grilled or poached fish, as the wine's bright acidity and low alcohol content make it perfect for cutting through the silky and delicate nature of the fish.
Meanwhile, full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc have a buttery, fruity, and acidic profile that can stand up to rich and fatty steaks. The secret to a good pairing is to trust your tastebuds and experiment with different flavor combinations.
Related: The Best Dry White Wines
Boxed wines are often stereotyped, especially by wine snobs, as synthetic or low quality because they can be bought at a lower price! However, the cost reduction does not result from a deterioration in the wine’s quality itself but rather from the shipping and packaging.
The price of the raw materials for box packaging is significantly lower than glass. Aside from this, winemakers may also opt for boxes because they are more environmental-friendly, can hold more wine, give the wine a longer shelf life, and are easier for travel.
Whether a wine is low or high quality, it can be contained in a glass bottle or bag-in-box. So it’s better to have no assumptions about the wine’s quality based on its packaging and let your tastebuds judge the taste instead.
Generally, transferring red wines to a decanter will help reveal more aromas and flavors, especially for young wines. However, this does not imply that all red wines need decanting because they are only for enhancement; thus, they are not required.
Some wines, especially old ones, don’t need to be enhanced through decanting because they already have enough, if not more, complex flavors and aromas due to their age. Doing so may shock the wine and cause a flavor imbalance.
On the other hand, decanting also helps to remove sediment from the liquid and make it appear clearer. Red wines contain more sediment and tannins than other wines, but some people don’t mind them and thus have no need for decanting.
Related: Decanting Wines And Time Behind Them
There’s always the possibility of opening bad wine, and apparently, a quick sniff of the cork will tell you if there’s something wrong with the wine. Sometimes, a cork can be tainted and smell unpleasant because of a bacteria called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole or TCA.
However, this doesn’t mean that the wine itself is also tainted. So, it would be a shame to return a bottle of wine to a server just because you based your judgment on the cork and not the wine.
If you want to assess the wine correctly, pour a small amount into a glass, examine its color and smell it properly. If there are indeed off-odors, you can ask for another bottle. But if it’s perfectly fine, you can go ahead and enjoy.
Related: Wine Drinking 101
Swishing wine has been a long-followed practice by sommeliers around the world. Having the wine spread out in the mouth will activate all of the tongue's taste buds and help you analyze all of tthe wine's characteristics, tastewise.
This technique is useful for sommeliers because it’s their job to taste and study the wine’s flavors. It’s also useful if you’re going to a wine-tasting event. But if you’re at your home or a restaurant drinking wine, you may opt to skip this step and just sip and enjoy the wine.
Related: How To Taste Wine
Champagne flutes are most commonly associated with sparkling wine, but to say that they are the correct type of glass may not sit well with other people.
Champagne does look especially lovely when served in flutes, which are made to keep the bubbles in the glass for as long as possible. However, the narrow bowl may not enable its perfume to develop fully, making you miss out on one of the best parts of the drink.
Many people prefer tulip glasses or even white wine glasses because their wider bowl allows more flavors and aromas to come through. Bottom line, there is no standard or the right type of Champagne glass because it depends on preference.
Related: Different Types of Champagne Glasses
The wines you usually find on store shelves are produced by big companies. At times, these wines are often thought of as “not delicious” because they are a lot cheaper, are produced faster and in large amounts, and are usually added with additives.
But just because these wines are generally inexpensive or produced in bulk doesn’t mean that they’re bad. Since big wineries sell millions of cases annually, they are able to reduce their prices to accommodate more buyers.
And in terms of flavor, many mass-produced wine bottles taste decent, and that’s why people love them. You can try those from Trinchero, Treasury Wine Estates, Jackson Family Wines, Constellation Brands, and E&J Gallo, and maybe you’ll find a new go-to from their offerings.
If you want to ensure that the wine you’re buying is high quality, don’t bother peeking at its punt or the indent at the base of the bottle.
Deep punted bottles can be heavier and more costly, giving the impression that the wine is of superior quality. But in reality, you are only paying for the extra glass necessary to accomplish the punt!
Back then, punts were used to show that a bottle was handblown, and on a functional level, they made bottles more stable and durable. In other words, punts only add to bottle quality and have no bearing on wine quality.
We only ever hear of or see red wines getting decanted, which led most of us to think that decanting is exclusive to red wines. Actually, whites and rosés, as well as some sweet wines or dessert wine also benefit from being decanted, especially if they are reduced or are too acidic.
Almost wine styles taste better after being decanted, even if just for a short time. However, Champagne and other sparkling wines remain exceptions to this.
The proper way to decant a bottle of wine depends on how old and structured it is. Aeration for dry white wines, as well as aromatic rosé wines, should last for about 30 minutes.
Related: The Best Wine Decanting Sets
Wine has no explicit expiration date, and it cannot transform into anything poisonous. The wine's alcohol prevents the growth of dangerous bacteria, so when you’re serving wine that has gone “bad,” the worst-case scenario is that it might taste stale, nutty, or a little sour.
However, you can get alcohol poisoning, or the condition of having too much alcohol in your blood, when you drink many glasses of wine for a short time. It can be serious and lead to health complications such as brain damage.
If you've opened a bottle of wine that has gone bad, the odor is unmistakably unpleasant. It has the smell of vinegar, rotten fruit, or spoiled milk.
The reason for this unpleasant odor is acetaldehyde, which is produced naturally during the aging process. Acetaldehyde is also produced by microorganisms that feed on alcohol in fermenting liquids. It can also be present even in perfectly fine wines if they haven't been stored properly.
Wine can be a friend or a foe to your health. Drinking excessive amounts of wine on a regular basis has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, chronic pancreatitis, liver damage, low-quality sleep, and other health problems.
However, if your wine consumption is moderate, you will reap the health benefits of wine.
For instance, it's common knowledge that red wine is good for your heart. Red wine's antioxidants and alcohol may help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, which can trigger heart attacks.
The next time you have second thoughts about getting a cheap wine or not chilling your red wine, we suggest you go for it because those negative or exclusive notions about them are just myths!
As wine drinkers, it’s essential to have a clear grasp of the technicalities of wine so you’ll have more options and a better drinking experience.
Which myth surprised you the most? We’d love to hear your comments below!
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