THE SEVEN GREATEST WINE MYTHS

THE MORE EXPENSIVE THE WINE, THE BETTER IT IS

This is one of the most common wine myths and a good reason to reiterate the key message of this site: a more expensive bottle wine isn’t necessarily better than a cheaper one (check out my Reviews and Top Picks for some good examples). Now, obviously, expensive wines are often superior to cheap wines: An $800 bottle of Grange will almost definitely be better than a $10 bottle of Jacob’s Creek. But I’d be less confident that Grange could outperform a number of $100 or $200 bottles of Shiraz. That’s especially true if you’re comparing a lesser vintage of Grange with a better vintage of something else.

The reality is there are many factors in play in determining a wine’s price like reputation, demand and marketing. My job here is to look beyond all those and see how the wine stacks up to its price.

CORK-SEALED BOTTLES ARE BETTER THAN SCREW-CAPPED ONES

Thankfully, the vast majority of Australian wines now come under screwcap, including some of our most famous drops. However, it’s a different story overseas where high-end wines are almost universally bottled under cork. In any case, it’s what’s in the bottle that matters, not the seal. Good quality wines come under both cork and screwcap, and at least with the latter you don’t have to worry about cork taint or premature oxidisation.

STICKING A SPOON IN THE TOP OF A BOTTLE OF SPARKLING WINE

Ok, I admit to falling for this in my early 20s: sticking a spoon in the top of a bottle of an open bottle of sparkling wine to preserve the bubbles. I have no idea how it was supposed to work, probably because it doesn’t, as several studies have shown. Some experts reckon a wine stopper will help, though if kept cold, sparkling wine should retain some fizz for a day or two anyway. Personally, I prefer to finish a bottle in one sitting and go for half bottles if my wife and I only want a glass or two.

OLD WINE IS GOOD WINE

This is one of the more pervasive wine myths and it’s completely wrong. The number of wines that get better with age is very small in the scheme of things. Even those are only worth ageing if you take very good care of them and that means getting a cellar or dedicated storage unit.

Personally, I’d rather drink a good bottle of wine young than age it under imperfect conditions. Decanting a young bottle for a decent period of time – hours or even all day if necessary – can do wonders, and I’ve had some of my favourite wines that way, but drinking a badly-kept old bottle of wine will never be a pleasant experience.

SULPHITES CAUSE HANGOVERS

This is simply not true. If you have a hangover from drinking red wine, it’s the alcohol that’s to blame. Sulphites are also said to cause “red wine headaches” in some people but again they’ve been unfairly targeted. No one knows for sure what causes the headaches, but histamines and tannins are thought to be the culprits.

ONLY WHITE WINE GOES WITH FISH

I could have done a whole series of wine myths just focusing on food pairings, but this is probably the most famous one. There are two points to make here: A) Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t enjoy, if you like drinking Cabernet Sauvignon with Baramundi, go right ahead, and B), this “rule” is too broad to be useful. There are lots of different kinds of fish and multiple ways to cook them. A Riesling might be best for grilled trout, but a richer-flavoured fish like Salmon can hold its own alongside a lighter red like Pinot Noir.

RED WINE SHOULD NEVER GO IN THE FRIDGE

This is one of the dumbest wine myths, especially for anyone living in one of the warmer parts of Australia. A red wine served at, say, 25 degrees will show its alcohol too strongly and loose its finesse and nuances. The ideal serving temperature for most reds is around 16 to 18 degrees. It’s hard to get to that exact temperature at home but putting a bottle in the fridge for 30 minutes should do the job. It’s also a good idea to store an opened bottle of red in the fridge if you aren’t going to finish it in one sitting as the colder temperature will slow its development.

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