There is nothing nicer than to enjoy a sunny afternoon and or evening with friends and accompanied by a really good glass of wine. Unfortunately there can always be a wine snob hidden in your company flooding you with a lot of pedantic facts about this gods drink. In order to silence these smarty-pants once and for all, I am hereunder giving you 16 myths about wine, plus the ammunition to undermine them. Enjoy!
1) Wine gets better with age
Some of them do. Almost all wine today is made to be consumed within a few years after it is bottled. Red wines might last up to four years without decline while rosé wines, with few exceptions, should be consumed within a year of the vintage. Most white wines should be drunk no more than two years past the vintage. There are a minority of wines that benefit from ageing past these rules of thumb, particularly red and some sweet dessert wines.
2) You can tell if a wine is “corked” by smelling the cork
When a waiter hands you the cork after opening a bottle of wine at your table, it is certainly not for smelling. You just want to check if the cork is still wet, check that the storage was ok and no air penetrated the wine. When a wine is corked a certain white fungus will show on the cork. The only other information a cork can provide is to confirm the brand of the producer and the vintage year.
3) Wine is overpriced in restaurants
Many restaurants around the world grossly mark-up their wine in order to make up for the small profit margin on their food. But there are other restaurants who take a more modest mark-up in order to provide the best experience for their guests. In Europe, wine is an essential part of the menu and many places you are likely to find decent wine for the same price or little more than soft drinks or mineral water.
4) Taking a month off drinking and it will detox your liver
Many people take a break from consuming alcohol for one month per year thinking they can detox their system and get back to normal. You might be cheating yourself big time! I am quoting a medical expert here: “Detoxing for just a month per year is medically futile. It can lead to a false sense of security and feeds the idea that you can abuse your liver as much as you like and then sort everything else with a quick fix.” If you do not want to overload your system, take a day or four off alcohol each week, instead of a month per year, to maintain better health. Just to help you realize; if you have consumed 10-15 glasses of alcohol in one session, it will take your body two days without drinking alcohol to readjust!
5) You need a cellar to store your wine.
Unless you are a collector or someone who has a vast amount of wine, you do not need a cellar for storage at all. Any closet that does not vary wildly in temperature throughout the year and is free from light and vibration will do fine for wine even if stored for some years. All you need to do is make sure the wine is on its side in a rack or box disturbing it only when you are ready to consume.
6) The correct serving temperature for red wine is room temperature
This came from the time in the 19th Century or so when a room was heated to only 63° F (17° C) or less. Today central heating commonly heats rooms to 70° F (21°C) and above. Considering the fact that red wine is usually served between 12-14 degrees, current room temperatures would be way too high. This is because heat changes the aromas and makes the alcohol more pronounced in flavour so even red wine should be slightly chilled in most homes without a cellar. It is ok to chill your red wine to the desired temperature shortly before opening it. A half hour in your refrigerator will do it.
7) Red wines should always be uncorked hours before serving to show their best
The vast majority of red wines do not need to be opened long before to “breathe” to show their best. It would look silly when you order a particular wine in a restaurant, only to be told to wait a couple of hours before it is drinkable. As it is, these small in number wines are more for collectors who intend to drink them at home. The greater number of red wines can be opened and immediately poured to be fully enjoyed.
8) You need to know a lot about wine to appreciate it
I would say that you need a lot to know only when you really want to appreciate the quality of the wine, vintage, background etc. But quality is not always equal to liking the taste. In fact, I know some high quality wines, the taste of which I do not like at all. So you should be the judge of what you drink and what you like and look for more of the same. You do not need to be an expert in order to appreciate a wine.
9) You should cook with the same wine that you are going to drink
This sounds like a good idea, but it is not a must. You should try to avoid adding a very cheap wine to your dish though, if you would not drink it do not add it to your food. If you feel the wine is too expensive just to add to your food, then also do not do it. The general rule here is that any wine you add should also be a wine that you love drinking.
10) Don’t mix red and white wine if you want to avoid a hangover
Simple: if you get a hangover you probably drank too much. If you mix grapes (blue) with grapes (white), you should have no problem. Mixing, however, grape based drinks with grain based ones (like beer or spirits) is more likely to give you a headache.
11) You should only drink white wine with fish
Although this is the thing people go for, this is not a strict law. It really depends on the strength of the fish taste. If it is really strong, then no red wine will be able to match it. Today red wines are often a good complement, especially with meaty or oily fish. Think not only of the fish, as the accompanying sauce also can make a difference.
12) Drink only red wine with red meat
Even this one is no longer true. Although most people will concur with this, there are those of us who would prefer an oaky Chardonnay. If you want to try this, please visit my summary of world best Chardonnays here.
13) Serve white wines always chilled
White wine is usually served at 10-12 degrees Celsius. But the temperature at which you drink it is a personal thing. If you like it chilled then fine, but remember the more you chill a wine, the less aroma and flavour is apparent. Drink a white wine ice cold (like beer, which should be drunk at 4-6 degrees Celsius, although in the US they go for ice cold)) and you will notice that most of the taste has gone.
14) Store bottles always lying down
This used to be true as most bottles of wine were closed with a cork. If you have bottles sealed with a cork then yes, store them lying down so that the wine wets the cork, prevents it from drying out and shrinking as a consequence of which air could come in, encouraging oxidation of the wine. Nowadays more and more bottles of wine are screw capped, which will protect the wine from coming into contact with air prematurely. These can be stored standing without a problem.
15) Cheese and red wine are great together
I would say that some red wines and cheeses match. Cheese and wine are often the hardest to pair. Try the wrong combination and your wine will be horrific. Ideally when wine is paired with cheese, they should complement each other’s tastes. If in doubt, try these: Chardonnays with soft cheeses such as Camembert and Brie, Sauvignon Blanc with more acidic cheeses such as feta and goat, light, young red wines (Beaujolais, Rhone wines can be good) with medium to full-flavoured hard cheeses and dessert wines (like Sauternes) with blue cheese. Read more about wine and cheese pairings here.
Remember this: it is much easier to pair white wines with cheese than red wine, especially when you are serving a cheese platter with a variety of cheeses. There is a Chardonnay that matches each type of cheese.
16) The more you pay the better the wine
Generally, higher priced wines tend to have a higher quality of wine. While this should be true, in practice it often isn’t, as some wines are just overpriced. There are wonderfully good wines and horrifically bad wines and a hell of a lot in between. The thing is to find wines that you love and are happy with the price of. After all it is your personal taste that will lead you the way to the wines you like.
Each one of you is the master of drinking the wines you really like. You do not need to be an expert in wine in order to find the ones fitting for you. It is just a matter of trying and experimenting with wine until you know what your personal favourites are.
Why don’t you start by trying some Chardonnays? To gain access to and see my reviews and ratings click the three images to the right (for mobile users just under this text) under the heading World best Chardonnays for delivery to and chose your area.
If you think I forgot a wine myth that you want debunked, then you are welcome to let me know in the comment box and I will come back to you within 24 hours.