Top Wine Myths
1. Smelling the cork
We’ve all seen it in movies and most of us have been there: you’ve studied the wine list, made a selection and then ordered your bottle of choice. The waiter arrives, bottle in hand and pulls the cork. He then passes it to you. What do you do? For one thing, you don’t smell it. The tradition of presenting the cork originated in Bordeaux where historically disreputable merchants would sell wines with counterfeit labels of some of the more highly prized chateaus. To protect their reputations and their profits the chateaus began to inscribe their corks with symbols and words. The waiter presenting you a cork is a homage to this period when upon purchasing a bottle a customer ;would be presented with the freshly pulled cork in order to check the inscription.
2. Older wine is better wine
I was recently asked to help my grandfather with the sort of job that I enjoy. He asked me to go through his wine selection and help him to find which wines were of value and which should be consumed now or aged a little longer. No, no one likes to deliver bad news and this situation was no different. Many of the wines had simply been aged too long. While most wines will improve with age not all do. Up to a certain point wines will develop complexity and become softer on the palate however after too long they will begin to lose flavour and the subtle nuances that make them wonderful. As a rule of thumb, young wines will be fruity and vibrant while older wines are more savoury, earthy and smooth. If in doubt it’s always a great idea to ask the producer how long their wines should be kept.
3. The importance of wine legs
“Check out those legs.” That’s one statement that sounds a little forward until you turn around to see everyone staring at the wine glass which is held up. While the perfectly straight and cohesive streaks running down the inside of the glass certainly look pretty they aren’t indicative of wine quality. This in known as the marangoni effect and is simply a function of the viscosity of the wine and the smoothness of the glass. What wine legs tell us is either that a wine has a higher than normal alcohol level, a higher level of sweetness, or a little of both.
4. Allowing your wine to breathe
Have you ever been at a dinner party and someone opens the wine, leaving it on the table to “breathe”. The stark reality is that many wines, particularly full bodied reds and whites as well as aged wines will seem more aromatic and flavoursome after being exposed to a little air. The bad news is that simply opening the bottle and letting it stand wont put enough oxygen in contact with the wine to have a real benefit. Instead, try pouring the wine into your glass and standing it for a few minutes before drinking.
5. There is a right and a wrong way to enjoy wine
Possibly the greatest myth surrounding wine is that there is a right and a wrong way to drink it. Whether you like strawberries in your Champagne, ice in your Sauvignon Blanc, your Shiraz served as a sangria or your Muscat on ice cream, you’re never wrong. After all, wine is made to be enjoyed and while there are guidelines to enjoy it as the winemaker intended it is far more important to form pleasant memories of a wonderful time with great friends and your wine as you like it.