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!

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