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Monday, November 3, 2014

The Five Basic Wine Myths

There are lots of misconceptions about wine, but here are the basic ones everyone should know about.

Wine is better if it's aged

At one time this usually was the case with old world reds because they were so tight and tannic (mouth drying) you had to age them for years just to make them drinkable. The fallacy still exists that says a wine that will age longer is the better wine. 
Most wines made today, California ones anyway, are pretty drinkable on release. Many will go a few years if aged properly. Even so, does that mean they're better or just older?
There are exceptions, of course, but the ones that should age for many years are a very small percentage of the wines out there.

Wine made from a single grape variety are better than ones blended from multiple kinds of grapes

This is an American myth because you find the wine type listed on the label. You see Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon and you know what it is. If you see White Wine or Red Wine or some other name you don't know what you're getting. Worse, in "the old days" blended wine meant cheap jug wine. You know, rotgut white and rotgut red. Actually, if you put a little Semillon in your Sauvignon Blanc or some Merlot and Cabernet Franc in you Cabernet Sauvignon you often get a better, more interesting, wine

If you don't know a lot about wine you can't really appreciate it

Wine geeks actually enjoy learning about malolactic fermentation. Normal people don't care. It's just a matter of what you like to drink. Everybody's palate and wallet are different.

Serve red wine at room temperature

This is fine if your room is about 60 to 65 degrees. In warm weather you might want to chill that red wine in the fridge for a few minutes. There's nothing worse than an 80 degree wine on a 90 degree day.
While we're on the subject not all white wines are best at fridge temperature. Often Chardonnay shows best closer to a cool room temperature.

Serve red wine with beef; white wine with seafood

This is the biggest misconception and I assume it was started by well-meaning people trying to make it easy on us, the uneducated masses. Yes, big, heavy reds like a young Syrah can overpower white fish done in a little lemon and butter. On the other hand, you might find you like that combination just fine. Chardonnay with steak? Well, maybe you're just not in the mood for Cabernet. Often the preparation, such as the sauce, decides what sort of wine will work best--like spicy BBQ chicken wings with Zinfandel, oh yeah.
This doesn't mean there aren't a lot of nuances to how a particular meal and wine interact, but it just ain't worth worrying about.

Buy what you want, what you can afford, then open it and drink it soon!