Wine Misnomers and Misinformation
We are now more than even bombarded with information. Some of this information is balanced and based on facts, some is based on misconceptions and misinformation. This holds true for wine.
While I am no expert, I have researched some of these misconceptions from reliable knowledgeable sources and want to share what I found.
Those bad Sulfites
So, a huge misconception is sulfites and their contribution to headaches and other ills. Sulfites are an organic compound that occurs naturally when fermentation happens. All wines have sulfites, yes, all wines, even whites, as do dried fruits, soda, French fries, and beer. Sulfites are good for wine helping to prevent spoilage. The University of Florida extension did a study and found around 1% of people suffer from sulfite sensitivities. Most of us forget to hydrate while drinking wine or overindulge causing our headaches and felling un-well. Yet, many mass-produced wines also have other additives from flavor agents to white sugar which may contribute to this.
There is a thought that the lunar calendar impacts the flavors of wine; that a certain wine will taste better on a certain day. This was a new concept for me. I fully understand how the lunar calendar affect the growing of all plants and for many planting garden vegetables on specific days to make them more productive is followed. However, I had never heard about eating a particular vegetable on a certain day and it making them taste better. There are passionate individuals on both sides of this idea. The concept is that a wine will taste better on a fruit day than a root day. One study has debunked this concept (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169257), yet there are many tasting rooms that are not open on certain days because of the lunar cycle and there are also apps that tell you what wine to avoid on certain days. I guess my thought is simply I love wine, good wine and will enjoy it any days I want. I may be wrong, but doubt my wine consumption will soon change.
Legs & Tears
In wine terms there is this thing called “legs,” some call them “tears.” This refers to the wine that runs down the side of the glass when it is swirled. Some believe the thicker, longer lasting the legs, the better the wine. Legs or tears have no bearing on the quality of the wine. It simply indicates alcohol level, and sometimes the sugar level. My thought is why would I care about deciphering the alcohol level of the wine through legs when it is clearly stated on the bottle? It can give you a rough idea of the alcohol level if you don’t have the bottle, but I usually don’t care if it is 12% or 15%.
To Decant or not to Decant
Many people believe that all wine needs to be decanted prior to enjoying. This concept has some merit but is not true of all wines. There are several things that determine whether a wine should be decanted or not. The best way to determine this is to open the wine and have a taste. If it is sharp, harsh, or tight, then introducing air is a good thing, it will soften the harshness. However, you may not need to decant the bottle, you may need to leave the bottle open for 30 minutes or more. The temperature of the wine also makes a big difference. Most red wine should be served between 62-68 degrees and most white wine should be at 49-55 when served, of course there are exceptions.
Cost vs. Quality
The myth between cost and quality has and always will be just that, a myth. The heaviness of the bottle also has no indication of the quality of the wine. Same is true of a deep “punt” on a bottle (the indentation on the bottom of the bottle). I have found many exceptional wines that are well under $20. I have also tasted some amazing $100+ bottles of wine and some not so great $100 bottles.
I am not a great Taster
The biggest myth in the wine world is that unless you have an exception olfactory system (highly sensitive nose and tongue), you will never be a great wine taster. While having a sensitive olfactory system is very beneficial, you can still learn to be a great wine taster. The trick is to taste as many different grape varietals as possible, to make notes about each considering where it is from and continue tasting new wines. Try taking a class, learn from other that enjoy wine, even those that are on your same level. I often find a taste in a wine that I cannot pinpoint, but someone else says “I taste pineapple,” and I realize yep, that is what I am tasting. Anyone can become a good wine taster and smell and taste the uniqueness found in every bottle of wine.