30 Jan Common wine myths debunked
“All wine gets better with age.” “Red wine should never be chilled.” “Bottles sealed with a cork are better than those with a screw cap.”
Can you tell myth from fact?
Wine myths may seem harmless, but they can easily derail your journey. Let’s set the record straight about a few common myths you may have heard.
■ Great wines have great “legs.” Those clinging dribbles of wine that drape down the inside of the glass after you’ve swirled are often called “legs.” Some believe this indicates wine quality. In reality, “legs” can give you a clue to the alcoholic strength or sugar content of the wine, not its quality.
Higher alcohol levels will collect a higher density of wine droplets on the sides of the glass than lower alcohol wines. The viscosity of sweeter wines is higher, so the legs will flow more slowly down the sides of a glass with a sweeter wine. Temperature and humidity of a room will affect the rate that wine legs form.
■ Wine always gets better with age. We often hear about older vintage wines being auctioned off for astronomical amounts of money, so one would assume that all wine is better with age. In reality, only a small number of wines benefit from aging. Most often these wines are of exceptional quality and may have high levels of tannins and/or acidity, characteristics known to help preserve wine.
Most wines are made to be enjoyed within a couple of years after bottling and not meant to be laid down in a cellar to mature. If you are looking to buy wine to cellar, consult your favorite wine professional and make sure the wine is a good candidate for aging.
■ Red wine should never be chilled. One of the first things wine drinkers hear is “only keep white or sparkling wines in the fridge” and “reds should always be served at room temperature.” Red wine characteristics are most often best expressed at warmer temperatures than whites, but there are some exceptions.
The best red wines to try chilled are light- to medium-bodied wines such as sangiovese, tempranillo or pinot noir. These lighter reds can be served slightly cooler than bigger-bodied reds. If you want to chill a red wine, put the bottle in the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving to allow the wine to cool slightly.
■ Screw cap = low-quality wine. While corks are traditional, they aren’t always best for preserving wine, particularly white wines, which are more susceptible to spoilage due to their delicate nature. Because screw caps make it easier to open and store wine while best preserving it, they have become mainstream in many wine regions throughout the world. There are many quality wines bottled under both corks and screw caps. Don’t be afraid to buy a well-reviewed wine, even if it has a screw top.
■ Box wine is mediocre. Boxed wine has a bad reputation. There have been a lot of technological changes since the inception of boxed wine, making it a good alternative. The wine stays fresher longer and is a better value, and a box is more durable than a bottle.
We’ve seen a large number of wineries using alternative packaging, including boxes, cans or various-sized bottles. These less traditional packaging options make transporting wine more sustainable and opening and consuming wine easier for the drinker.
The type of container a wine is stored in does not directly affect the quality, but it can have a large influence on the wine’s shelf-life. We will be seeing more quality wines packaged in alternative formats in the future. So, don’t judge a wine by its packaging.