The myths about wine

Every now and then some myths about the quality, price, tasting, and smelling of wine come across – some “traditions” in which even I used to believe at the beginning of my wine exploration.

So let’s see which stereotypes about wine are still in some wine drinkers mind.

1. A spoon or fork keeps the fizz in sparkling wine or Champagne

You’ve probably heard of it and, like me in my early wine exploring stages, even tried to put a fork or spoon upside down in an open bottle of sparkling wine to keep it fresh and fizzy. Some also might think is has to be the good sterling cutlery of your grandparents… But the truth is no matter what kind of cutlery you put in or if you just leave the bottle open and put it back into the fridge – it won’t make any difference. In reality there is no fundamental reason why a spoon or whatever object of steal or silver should stop the CO2 gas escape the bottle. But what does actually happen inside the bottle? The bubbles in sparkling wine are Carbon Dioxide, a heavy and inert gas, heavier than oxygen and nitrogen. It only takes minutes after popping the cork that CO2 forms a protective area just above the fluid level which forestalls oxidation and hold much of the remaining carbonation in liquid form – that keeps the fizz. This happens with or without the spoon!

2. Price dictates quality

Probably the biggest misnomer about wine. But you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a wine with good quality. Price doesn’t reflect quality. The price tells different things about the wine e.g. how many cases were made or how much was spent on marketing by the producer – both indicators that don’t say much about quality but have an effect on the bottle price. Prices of wine can differ due to the types of grapes used, the land of the vineyard, or price of packaging. In the end it is all about what you like. You can get a cheap wine and enjoy it while you probably wish you wouldn’t have spent that much on the expensive one…

3. Rosé is just white wine and red wine mixed together

Probably you have tried it at a party: Mix red and white wine and what do you get? Rosé? No. Typically quality rosé wine is made of red grapes. During the fermentation process the WHITE juice from the red grapes are in contact with the grapes skin and all red pigments are contained. This process can take from a few hours to a couple of days until the juice becomes its typical delightful pink colour and is then further fermented into wine.

4. Smell the cork and you know if it’s a good quality wine

Smelling the cork won’t tell you anything about the quality of wine – because cork smells…like cork! To check if the wine is corked you need to smell the wine itself, the cork won’t tell you. So, what should you do when the waiter hands you the cork of the bottle of wine you want to enjoy? Check if the cork is broken, or has any mould. Older and more expensive wine corks should have the vintage date on it which should be identical with the date on the label. Additionally the winery’s name, logo or other branding information should appear on the cork of a quality wine. Since natural corks are more and more replaced by synthetic corks or screw caps smelling the cork will probably not be seen that much anyway…

5. Screw tops are a sign of cheap wine

This leads us to the next myth: Wines with alternative closures, especially screw caps are cheap wine. False! The problem with natural cork is it makes the wine faulty. The chemical known as Cork Taint (Actually it is called Trichloroanisole) and can, if it appears in the cork, completely destroy the wine. The wine then smells and tastes dusty; like wet newspaper. If the bottle had a screw cap this wouldn’t have happened.

A big advantage of the screw cap is the ease of use. Doesn’t it go much faster? No corkscrew needed and when you don’t finish the whole bottle you can close it easily. And the wine itself has the same quality as a wine with a natural cork.

Have you heard any more interesting, funny myths about wine? Let me know!

Brazil on a catch-up race

We are very proud to say that we just added a variety of high quality and tasty Brazilian wines to our product range. I got really excited when we took in red, white and sparkling wines from Brazil after concentrating on the more “typical” wine countries first.

I’ve never tasted any wines from this country before. What will they taste like? Are they of good quality? Some people might think: Don’t they just drink Caipirinha in Brazil? And how can they produce wine over there when the country is covered with rain forests?

Brazil is, indeed a comparatively young wine producer on the world market with just 4 years of international wine recognition and in an early stage of development when it comes to promoting the wine abroad or supporting the export. Actually the country has a relatively long history of wine making since Italian immigrants settled in South Brazil in the 19th century which brought grapevines and the tradition of wine. Most of their wines are hardly known outside of Brazil. That is a shame since it is wine of high quality and fantastic flavour.

The country currently exports 20% of its wine production and is becoming more and more famous for its sparkling wines. Opinions I received on wines from Brazil just back it up: surprisingly good sparkling wines, excellent red wines, fresh and juicy with moderate alcohol level.

According to a survey by the Brazilian Wine Institute Ibravin (Instituto Brasileiro do Vinho), in 2010 12.5 million litres of sparkling wine were sold, compared to 11.1 million gallons placed in 2009. And now for 2011 exports are expected to rise by a third in value again. The UK is the strongest import market for Brazilian wines and just topped the US.

90% of production is concentrated in the south of the country, an area called Serra Gaúcha located between Uruguay and the Atlantic Ocean. Also the São Francisco Valley, a hot desert area only nine degrees south of the equator is famous for growing wine and allows two productions of crops per year.

So what to expect from these wines? Often mentioned and dominant wine brands are Miolo, Lidio Carraro and Pizzato. The Miolo Group of wineries remains to be one of Brazil’s high quality producers with wines in many quality ranges from basic-popular to Icon ranges all consisting of award winning wines.

One of the Super Premium Range wines is Miolo Brut Millésime. Made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes it creates a refreshing and fruity sparkling with 12% volume in alcohol.

Miolo Lote 43, an Icon wine with Caberent Sauvignon and Merlot grapes is an easy to enjoy and full flavoured red wine with aromas of dried plums, currants and mints.

Another excellent wine producer Lidio Carraro holds vineyards in the Vale dos Vinhedos appellation which has become known as the origin of Brazil’s finest wines. One speciality Carraro’s wine have is that no oak is used for wine production. Its Dadivas Chardonnay comes with vanilla aromas and natural freshness.

Wines from Brazil are never too heavy and their ordinary alcohol volume of 13% makes the wines easy to enjoy for every occasion.

Brazilian wines are definitely here to stay. A look at the brilliant prospects for the wine industry in Brazil shows that there is big potential for these wines. Although still the “traditional” old world and new world wine countries are in people’s mind due to the growing wine consumption Brazil will get its chance and hopefully become a more prominent player in the world of wine.

Curious now? Go to WinesMadeEasy.ie and check out our Brazilian wines.

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