Erin Doman on April 30, 2015 1 Comment There are many common practices regarding wine making, preservation and serving that wine connoisseurs swear by. However, do any of these long-held beliefs really hold merit? As it turns out, many of these beliefs are quite false and based more on old wives tales rather than fact. Below are the 8 most commonly believed wine myths. Myth 1: Expensive Wine Is Always Better It makes sense that the best wines are the ones that you have to shell out an arm and a leg for. However, are pricey bottles always superior to the generic brands purchased at a liquor store? Multiple blind taste tests have shown that participants who drank two different types of the same wine often identified the cheaper brand as the better tasting or more expensive one. Keep in mind that wine price is influenced by multiple factors, such as manufacturing location, ingredients, brand reputation, celebrity endorsements, and so forth. Unless you are an experienced sommelier who can distinguish the subtlest of quality with a mere sip, opting for an $80 bottle might not be worth it when you can purchase a lesser known brand of similar quality for $10. Myth 2: Family-Owned Wineries Make the Best Wine There’s a prevailing wine myth that the best bottles come from local and little-known distilleries that have been family-owned for generations. The belief is that these small wineries are able to put more care into their wine making that the larger wineries, and are able to utilize secret recipes and preparation methods that are virtually unknown elsewhere. This belief has also led to the idea that large-name manufacturers are unable to produce wine of equal quality. Keep in mind that bigger companies have deeper pockets, which means access to higher-quality and imported ingredients, and state-of-the-art distillation methods. You simply cannot base your opinion of the quality of a winery’s product by the size of the business. Myth 3: Cheese and Wine Go Hand-in-Hand Wine is almost always served with cheese and crackers. While this is perfectly fine for tradition’s sake, wine and cheese are actually not as compatible as some people may think. Due to its strong taste and texture, cheese actually inhibits the tongue’s ability to enjoy the full richness and balance of a good wine. The reverse may also be true where the wine can prevent your palate from enjoying the cheese’s full texture and creaminess. This is, of course, not a completely busted wine myth. There are many times when wine and cheese can really hit the spot. It’s really up to your personal preference on this one! Myth 4: Vintage Wine Is Better Than Non-Vintage Varieties People often tend to associate the word “vintage” with anything that’s expensive and hard to come by. Vintage wine does tend to be pricier than regular wine, which adds to the perception that it’s superior in quality. Wine labeled as “vintage” merely means that it’s made from grapes harvested from a certain year, whereas non-vintage wine uses a blend of ingredients from multiple harvesting seasons. With that in mind, vintage wine is certainly different, but whether it is better for the average drinker is a matter of opinion. Myth 5: Wines Sealed With a Cork Age Better Wine sealed with a wooden cork just seems to be more aesthetically appealing than a bottle sealed with a soda pop style screw cap. But is there any real reason that cork-sealed wine is better? The belief is that cork is a better sealer because it allows small traces of oxygen to leak into the wine. While too much oxygen degrades the wine’s flavor, it is true that very miniscule traces leaking into the bottle does help with the aging process. What about screw top caps? It’s believed that these sealers allow zero oxygen to get in, thus preventing optimal aging. However, recent innovations have yielded screw tops that allow for the permeation of oxygen. New technology is helping us catch up with the natural sealing ability of pure cork. In some ways, a screw cap is actually better than a cork. Since cork is made from wood, it can develop mold, which creates a chemical known as trichloroanisole (TCA) when it reacts with the wine. TCA can cause some degree of spoilage and has been found in three to five percent of aged wine. Myth 6: Wine in a Thicker, Heavier Bottle Is Higher in Quality Wine packaged in a thick glass bottle has a more elegant and luxurious feel to it. It also tends to be more expensive, leading to the perception that it must be higher in quality. Bottle size and style has nothing to do with a wine’s quality; it’s only pricier because the thicker glass means a higher investment has gone to the packaging to heighten the bottle’s aesthetic appeal. It’s mostly a marketing tactic, so don’t think that a heavier bottle equals exceptional wine. On the subject of the bottle, some also believe that the bottle’s punt, the dimple at the bottom of the bottle, is an indicator of the wine’s quality. It’s believed that the deeper the dimple is, the better the wine is. Once again, the punt merely reflects the bottle’s aesthetics and has nothing to do with the contents inside. Myth 7: Sweet Wines Are for Beginners Another prevailing belief is that sweet wines are solely enjoyed by casual drinkers while heavier wine is only enjoyed by a true sommelier that can distinguish subtle ingredients with a sip and swish. Contrary to popular belief, wines with sweet, fruity, and bubbly taste are not lesser in any way and are enjoyed by casual drinkers and wine connoisseurs alike. Likewise, heavier and tannic wines are also commonly enjoyed by those other than sophisticated wine experts. Don’t let your personal taste preferences be the determining factor for your level of wine expertise! Myth 8: Wine Should Be Oxygenated for at Least an Hour Before Serving This one is actually true, but is often practiced the wrong way. Wine does indeed taste better when allowed to breathe. This allows the contents to oxidize, thus softening its flavor and aroma. However, some people let the wine sit in the bottle after corking it open. This process is ineffective because the bottleneck is too narrow and does not allow sufficient oxygen to get through. A better aerating method is to let the wine sit after pouring it into your glass. The process can also be sped up by swirling the wine around the glass. Now that you know the fact from myth, you can make educated and informed choices when buying, drinking, or preparing your wine.