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Wine Myths

Wine Myth #10

Smelling the cork in a restaurant will tell you if the wine is bad.

Corks usually just smell like corks and won’t give much indication as to the quality of the wine. The cork is only offered by the waiter for a quick examination to make sure that there isn’t any fraud (the cork matches the bottle) and that the cork hasn’t been compromised and/or allowed seepage in any way. Smelling the wine, on the other hand, is encouraged.

Wine Myth #1

Red wine does not necessarily go with red meat and white wine does not necessarily go with fish. Protein texture and food preparation determine the proper wine selection just as much if not more than the type of meat.

Let one of our 7 sommeliers help you with your next wine pairing.

Wine Myth #2

Fruit used to describe a wine went into making it.

Unless you are buying a wine made from a fruit other than grapes, it is made from the grape varietal on the label, and not from fruit used to describe it (e.g., black cherry, strawberry, kiwi). It’s comparable to artificial flavors, i.e. they taste similar to whatever is being copied but do not contain the actual ingredient. So when you see, “hints of raspberry, cherry, and vanilla” on the label, the producer is simply describing how the wine tastes similar to these components, they weren’t actually used in the production of the wine.

Wine Myth #3

You need a different wine glass for different types of wines.

You do need a tulip shaped glass or a glass that tapers toward the top to concentrate the aroma toward your nose, but different shapes to place the wine on different areas of your tongue or to aerate the wine faster aren’t necessary. Just get yourself a nice set of stemware (we hear Bubbles is nice this time of year) and save the space in your cupboard.

Wine Myth #4

You can’t age wines sealed with an alternative closure.

In fact the data shows that screw caps, or ‘twist-offs’ as they are sometimes called, are more consistent at sealing wine than cork. One study, cited in the March 31, 2005 issue of Wine Spectator found that screw caps allowed .001 cc’s of oxygen per day on average versus corks that allowed anywhere from .1 to .001 cc’s of air to enter a wine bottle. That means twist-offs let in less oxygen over time , which results in longer bottle aging. The cork industry would have you believe otherwise, but don’t buy it. Screw caps are here to stay and you won’t have a problem letting these wines age. Personally, we prefer the drama and romance of a traditional cork. The twist-off might be a better technology, but perhaps it means losing a piece of our humanity in the process. As Earnest Hemingway once said, “Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”We're  not sure he was thinking of screw caps when he said that.

Wine Myth #5

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Sherry, and Port are all grape varieties.

Thanks to a confusing labeling system from the old world this is a common misunderstanding among wine consumers. Cities in France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, among others, restrict production of grape varieties in their area. For a winery to receive legal approval and label their wine, it must be made in the manner mandated by the production organization in that particular area. That means that Champagne is not a variety of wine, but the place where some sparkling wine is made. So, it must be made in the Champagne region and conform to all of the many rules that maintain its consistency (this also makes it more expensive; American sparkling wine makers, for instance, don’t have to jump over the same hurdles). Want to make a non-sparkling wine in the Champagne region from say Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and write 'Champagne' on the label? You can’t. Same with Bordeaux, which is a blend of different red grapes, Burgundy, which is primarily made from Pinot Noir, and Port, which is made from various red and white grape varieties.

Wine Myth #6

Pair white wine with fish or chicken and red wine with red meat.

Although this is the most common answer to ‘what wine should I pair with what food’, it isn’t very accurate. The better way to pair food and wine is by analyzing the flavors of the food and the flavors of the wine. For example, if you are grilling fish and decide to season it with a little salt, lemon, and butter, a nice Sauvignon Blanc with citrus notes or a Chardonnay with buttery flavors would work great. If, however, it’s salmon that will be smothered in a blackberry sauce, you would be better suited in choosing a fruity red wine like a Pinot Noir, Merlot, or even Syrah. The best thing to do (other than ask a Bubbles Sommelier) is read the description of the wine from the label or a review on a blog and then pair like with like. It’s also helpful to understand that wines with firm tannins work better with salty dishes, acidic wines need a dish with a bid of acid, and spicy food works better with wines with some residual sugar and not a high alcohol level. Just remember there are many nuances to food pairings, but if you have questions your Bubbles staff is always here to help.

Wine Myth #7

Wine Lovers are Snobs.

Not true, only people that live in Napa are snobs…just kidding. Actually, most serious wine lovers are students of it and are quite down to earth. Some of the best people are the makers of wine themselves, many of whom identify themselves as farmers. It’s the people who mask their ignorance with arrogance you have to watch out for. True wine lovers are passionate about continuing their wine education and are willing to share their knowledge and a glass with anyone interested. Wine is a very big subject and can seem daunting at times, but we’re here to help with any question big or small.

Wine Myth #8

Drink red wine at room temperature, white wine chilled.

Although this idea isn’t necessarily wrong, its interpretation almost always is. Many see this as letting red wine sit out on the counter so it can come to the current room temperature, and opening white wine right out of the fridge. The real idea behind room temperature for red wine was getting it to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the typical temperature of a ‘room’ when this saying was popularized.

Many professionals agree that the best way to enjoy wine if you don’t have the luxury of a temperature controlled storage device is to put your red wines in the fridge for about 5 – 15 minutes before consuming, white wines about 20 – 30 minutes. If you store your wine in the fridge, take the whites out for at least 15 minutes before serving, reds at least 30. Again, it isn’t an exact science, but typically you’re looking for around 60 degrees Fahrenheit on a red, a little below that for a white, and a bit colder for anything that sparkles. Some argue that nuances aren’t observed in white wines that are too cold, which is true. We find that if you chill your wines, over the course of the evening they will warm up and you can observe their development as the night progresses.

Wine Myth #9

All wines get better with age.

Actually a very small number of wines have the proper structure to hold up to aging. Most wines are made with the intention that they will be opened within a few years. The small amount of trophy wines that garner the majority of the press are the ones that have been built for longer aging, and most people don’t even buy these wines. Some grapes have a more obvious tendency to require aging to mellow a bit, especially if they are thick skinned, well ripened, have lots of tannin and enough buttressing acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon is an obvious example (although not all cab) and French Bordeaux if it has all of the qualities listed above in proper balance. French Sauternes is an example of a desert wine that will hold up very well over time.

In very general terms, the more expensive a bottle, the more it will repay bottle ageing. White Zinfandel, for instance, is not going to be drinkable beyond a couple years maximum…can you say regift?

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