There are so many old wives tales told about wine. We’ve all met, at some point or other, someone at a dinner party who professes to be a connoisseur. They only see things in black and white.. or should I say red and white.
Like any hobby, wine tasting can be as complex or carefree as you like, but if you take an interest in this ancient tipple, be careful to avoid the following common misconceptions.
The 3 most common misconceptions about wine are :
1. “Vintage” doesn’t mean antique or expensive
A wine’s vintage is its birth year, denoting wine that was made from grapes that were all or mostly grown and harvested in a specified year. Vintages are usually clearly labelled because the amount that a wine is aged affects its taste (this is due to yeast fermentation). If you’re wondering how wine is priced, this is usually affected by supply, demand and reputation. The vintage misconception comes about when the same estate wine (such as a Rothschild or Château La Lagune from Bordeaux) achieves vastly different prices between vintages.
2. A screw cap is always cheap
Not many people can immediately pinpoint the taste of TCA/TBA or cork taint, but it is bacteria (harmless to humans) that in most cases is transferred from the cork. Variously described as smelling like mouldy newspaper, wet dog or damp cloth, “corked” wine is unpleasant and particularly regrettable when it ruins a really nice bottle. This is why many expensive, and perfectly delicious, wines have screw caps (which are also airtight, whereas corks are not). The next time a waiter offers you a bottle for tasting in a restaurant, smell it carefully before you buy it!
3. The older, the better the taste
Only a small minority of wine is designed to age, and these are usually premium, high-quality ones. Wines that are designed to be consumed relatively quickly are not necessarily lower in quality. Another misconception is that only red wine is matured; white Burgundies and German Rieslings make excellent additions to any cellar, and as they grow older they darken to wonderful butterscotch and straw colours. While some premium wines can be aged for anything from 3 to 30 years, you can keep them too long, after which their acidity will be dominant on the palate and you’re best off pouring them down the sink.
Jane Shelley is an Australian travel writer. She has visited countries in Asia, Europe, Britain and even taken an unforgettable road trip across the Midwest of the United States. One of her passions is writing about wine and wine tasting, and one day she plans to build a wine cellar underneath the stairs in her apartment.