5 Wine Myths You Should Stop Believing

Drink Lists wine myths
5 Wine Myths You Should Stop Believing

Wine is a beverage that can seem intimidating; the culture of snobbery that sometimes surrounds the drink can make it seem unapproachable to those who are just starting to learn about it. In reality, though, wine is an agricultural product just like any other, and you shouldn’t feel any more intimidated by a bottle of wine than you do by a jar of pasta sauce.

But if you do want to learn more about wine, it might be helpful to start off by learning about some of the most common wine myths and misconceptions you may come across as you peruse the bottle shop or the wine list at your favorite restaurant. And don’t be afraid to ask for help—that’s what the professionals are there for! Here are some of the most common wine myths to be on the lookout for.

1. White wine should always be chilled, and red wine shouldn’t.

You may have heard that white wine should be chilled and that red wine should be served at room temperature, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s true that you may want to chill a fresh, fruity white wine before opening the bottle, but some white wines, particularly those that are more fuller-bodied, are able to express themselves more fully when they’re not too cold. A warmer temperature will help you pick up on more of the nuance in the flavor.

As for red wines, you’ll generally want to opt for a warmer serving temperature than you would choose for, say, a Sauvignon Blanc, but most red wines can be served slightly below room temperature. Some red wines, typically those that are lighter in flavor and tannins, like Beaujolais Nouveau, actually should be chilled for best results. Don’t know how cold a specific bottle should be? Ask a staff member at your local wine shop, or do a quick Google search to find the answer that’s best suited for your bottle.

2. You can determine the quality of a wine by looking at the “legs.”

One of the most common wine myths I hear on a regular basis is the idea that you can determine the quality of a wine by looking at its “legs,” or the droplets of liquid that stick to the inside of the glass when you swirl it. According to the myth, better-quality wine will have more pronounced legs. This isn’t exactly true, though. More pronounced legs in a wine simply means it contains a higher percentage of alcohol. In the past, in regions where grapes sometimes struggled to ripen, this higher alcohol content might have been an indication of quality, but these days, as wine regions across the world continue to warm due to climate change, that correlation just isn’t there.

3. The better a wine is, the more it costs.

While cost can be an indicator of quality in a wine, you can’t assume that all expensive wines are amazing and all cheaper wines must be bad. There are so many factors that go into wine pricing, from the cost of real estate in the area in which the vineyard is located to packaging decisions to taxes, shipping costs and weather. If you’re looking for a quality wine that doesn’t boast a high price tag, you may want to start by looking at less-hyped regions. Looking for a Pinot Noir from France? You’re more likely to find more affordable options from Alsace than you are from Burgundy, even though you may be getting similar quality.

4. Quality wine is always packaged in glass bottles with corks.

Canned and boxed wines are not, I repeat, are not inherently worse than wines packaged in glass bottles. In fact, in most cases, cans and boxes are much more sustainable packaging options than glass. The vessel a wine is packaged in doesn’t say much about its quality, although it may say something about a wine’s aging potential. Glass bottles are still preferred for wines that are meant to age in the bottle for several years, so if you see a wine in a can or a box, that just means it should be enjoyed while it’s young and fresh—it says nothing about a wine’s actual quality.

And what about corks versus screw caps? In some parts of the world, like Australia, screw caps have become the norm for all types of wine, so you definitely shouldn’t hesitate to buy a bottle just because it’s fastened with a screw cap.

5. You can age any bottle of wine.

Someone gave you a bottle of Pinot Grigio as a gift, and now you have to decide whether to open it right away or tuck it away with your best bottles to enjoy in a few years after it’s aged for a while. What should you do? Well, it really depends what type of wine you’re working with. Some types of wine are meant to be aged for several years in the bottle. These wines generally have a good balance of alcohol and acidity along with concentrated flavor. Red wines that age well usually have pronounced, bold tannins that can soften over time.

Other wines, though, are meant to be enjoyed young. Fresh, easy-drinking and aromatic white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, are best enjoyed right after purchase. Even some red wines, like Beaujolais Nouveau, are at their best when they’re drunk right away. Take a closer look at the grape and the vintage to determine whether you should age your bottle or open it for dinner tonight.

Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin