Wine, wonderful as it is, can be as confusing as anything else out there. There are a lot of misconceptions. Don’t fall for the trap. Educate yourself on these and more.
By Christine Salins Via hospitalitymagazine.com.au
With so much mystery surrounding wine, how does a sommelier recommend and deliver wine to the table without falling victim to some classic stereotypes? Here we debunk some common opinions.
1. Wine tastes better with age
Just as people don’t always improve with age, wine doesn’t always age gracefully either. Most white wines are made for immediate consumption, and most reds are best drunk within about five years. Many wines can be past their prime quite quickly. Wines that do have the potential to age nicely will do so only if they have been properly cellared.
2. Aged wines are more expensive
Supply and demand has more bearing on the price than age. Aged wines can be very affordable if they are not in high demand. Mass-produced wines are not likely to increase in price much but a young wine produced in limited quantities can increase in price very quickly if the demand is there.
3. Opening a bottle allows it to breathe
Wine actually opens up better in the glass than it does in a bottle with a narrow neck that allows less air in. Use a decanter if you really want to aerate the wine.
4. All old wines need decanting
Stop there! Put that decanter down. Decanting can sometimes improve expensive wine by opening up the tannins, but older wines can also be fragile. If a wine has reached its peak, decanting it might be just enough to tip it over the edge.
5. Red wine is best served at room temperature
That may be so if room temperature is 14 to 18 degrees celsius. If the room is hotter, it might pay to cool the wine down so that you can appreciate all its flavours in full glory. Around 18 degrees is good for a full-bodied Shiraz or Cabernet; 14 degrees is recommended for a lighter or medium-bodied wine.
6. Chardonnay should be served chilled
If, like me, you love Chardonnay and all its complexity, you’ll understand that many restaurants serve it far too cold.
7. Champagne should be served chilled
A study by the University of Reims suggests that it might be better to drink Champagne at around 18 degrees celsius as it is likely to form more bubbles.
8. Red wine has fewer kilojoules than sweet wine
Not necessarily. This may be true for a rich sweet botrytised wine, but not so for a lightly sweet Moscato which actually has slightly less kilojoules than a full-bodied red. Kilojoules come from alcohol as well as sugar content, so if you’re worried about kilojoules, look at the alcohol content and steer clear of the big 14 percent numbers.
9. The best wines are varietal wines
The quality of varietal wines – wines made from a single grape variety – can range from ordinary to excellent, just as the quality of blended wines can. Some of the world’s most iconic wines, including Australia’s famous Grange, are blends. Varieties often taste so much better when blended than they would alone.
10. Merlot is ordinary
We probably have the (otherwise excellent) movie, Sideways, to thank for this one. Sales of Merlot are said to have plummeted after the movie’s release. The truth is that Petrus, one of the world’s most expensive wines, is mainly Merlot. Merlot is widely used in prestigious Bordeaux blends
11. Chardonnay is boring
Tell that to a Burgundian. There’s an enormous range of Chardonnay styles on the market, some crispy and fresh, others with more complexity but beautifully balanced. In Chardonnay land, there’s something for everyone. There’s a reason why it’s the most popular white wine in the world.
12. Red wines are more serious than white wines
The myth about red wine being more sophisticated has come about because many people enjoy whites when they first start drinking wine, and then progress to reds. But there are many, very fine whites and exploring their virtues can be as much fun as drinking the finest reds.
13. An impressive label speaks volumes
Well … no … Never judge a book by its cover, never judge a wine by its label.
14. Wine quality is easily measured
Although there are particular attributes that determine the quality of wine, the notion of quality is still subjective. We can only go by our own tastes and sensory perceptions, and that, of course, is different for everyone. And that, after all, is the beauty of wine. It’d be a boring world if we all shared the same tastes.
Image courtesy of freetanic.com