I picked up The Guardian a couple of days ago and the first thing I saw on my app was super funny article titled “The 10 best Euro myths…” of course relating to the EU referendum – the only subject everyone is talking about, well… maybe except the football. But this article sparked an idea for a post from me. Why not write about some of the most common wine myths I face every day in my profession?
So here it comes – 8 of the most common wine myths busted:
- You can use white wine to get out a red wine stain- One of my favourite actually ?.
My goodness! Whoever come up with this idea had no appreciation of clothing or wine. White wine will just dilute the stain and then further stain your shirt. Take your clothes to the dry-cleaners or use a fabric stain remover and don’t waste your precious wine on laundry.
- It is sacrilege to put ice cubes in wine if it is too warm
No it’s not a crime – I do it all the time. In the end it’s just wine, not holy water! Don’t overdo it though, because ice dilutes the wine a bit so I would suggest a maximum of one cube of well frozen ice per glass.
Just one digression on this one – not all whites like to be frozen. Some of the heavier whites such as aged Burgundies benefit from being served a bit warmer than, let’s say, Sauvignon Blanc.
- Screw caps are for low-quality wines
Not true, though there is still some discussion going on related to ageing. Screw caps have been around since the 1950’s and are well accepted now. At the moment even super-premium red wines such as Chateau Margaux are using screw caps. There is no technical reason why those wines shouldn’t age just as well as those finished with cork.
But wine with screw caps can also go off like corked wine.
- Aged wine is always better
Ah yes, one of the most common misconceptions about wine. I hear it daily – people are looking at a one-year-old bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc and turning their nose up, asking if we have any older. But the truth is that about 90% of all wine produced in the world is designed to be drunk young, within a year of its making. In fact almost 99% of all wines are drunk within five years of production. Wine that is old and past its best tastes horrible, so it’s better to drink it one year before its peak than one day after!
- Always serve Red Wine at Room Temperature
Ok that is mostly true but not entirely. Firstly, room temperature – a long time ago when those rules were created, people didn’t have central heating and average room temperature was lower than nowadays, so yeah this is definitely true if you lived in my grandparent’s house where the thermostat stuck at 15˚C in 1960. Secondly there are reds which do very well with a bit of chilling, such Chinon or Beaujolais which are perfect served at 14°C. General guidelines for serving red wines are 14°C for lighter, less tannic wines and up to 18°C for heavier wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
- It is enough to open of wine to let it breathe.
Most red wines, but only some white wines, usually require aerating – or in wine slang – they need to ‘breathe’ right before being consumed. This is needed to let the oxygen to release the flavours.
However simply uncorking a bottle and letting the wine sit aside isn’t enough to air the wine. The narrow neck of a wine bottle is designed to not allow too much oxygen and to stop fast oxidation (wine going flat, tasteless). Therefore without purring some out or decanting in to a carafe doesn’t expose enough of the wine to oxygen to make it effective.
- Organic Wines have no sulphites
Yes they do. Grapes naturally contain sulphites, as do many other plants and food products. During fermentation the sulphites are released. What is true is that organic wines have no added sulphites as is common in non-organic wines. Sulphites are stabilizers preventing oxidation of wine and are also used to stop the fermentation to lower alcohol and allow some sugar in the wine.
8. Red wine gives me a headache and/or I’m allergic to wine or Sulphites.
Someone said this recently … “If you think you’re allergic to red wine, there’s a good chance you’re also allergic to not being an idiot.” I couldn’t agree more.
Contrary to popular belief, sulphites do not cause headaches. In fact, our bodies produce 1,000 mg of sulphites each day. Sulphites (sulphur dioxide) are natural and you will find far larger concentrations of sulphites in common daily foods such as dry fruits, spinach and eggs than in wine. However for those with asthma, sulphites can induce an allergic reaction.
Some specialists say it may be the tannins in red wine that give you a headache but if you are eating chocolate, drinking tea or coffee or enjoy hundreds of other foods containing tannins and you don’t get a headache, it is unlikely that you are allergic.
Do a simple test at home and make a cup of very strong English breakfast tea (steep the tea bag for a bit longer than suggested on the box). If you get a headache then there is a possibility that you may be allergic.
What does give you a headache is dehydration caused by consuming alcohol and this is the reason why you don’t treat wine like other alcoholic beverages and simply drink too much of it. Yes it is a grape juice but fermented and full of alcohol- so drink moderately!
And never apologise for having good time – never!
Wine of the week
Justin Girardin Bourgogne Blanc its a bottle I had over the last weekend and I have to say I’m impressed. This superb white made of 100% Chardonnay grapes from Santenay area. A very expressive bottle designed to be drunk fairly young in order to enjoy all the beautiful fruits of green apple, peach, some exotic aromas underlined buy some mineral hints, touch of toast and nutty notes. Its gently oaked to give the weight, roundness and complexity , while the finish is clean and literally has no end. At £15 in Oddbins it a bargain.