Debunking Wine Misconceptions

Debunking Wine Misconceptions

Wine is a very mysterious drink. This is also the reason why the wine enthusiasts are fascinated no end by the multitude of flavors, all coming from just one fruit-grapes.

There are, however, many misconceptions and even myths that need to be demystified before anyone can go to the next level in terms of fully understanding wine.

Here is a few of the most common misconceptions I received in my over 10 years of teaching, writing, and marketing in this industry.

1. The older the wine, the better

How often do we hear this? A lot of people seem to believe in the myth that the older the red wine, the better it gets. While this is the case for most premium red wines, it is definitely a huge fallacy. A light bodied red wine, meant for early drinking, will die naturally when cellared past its prime. And think about this, if the wine you are drinking is bad now, adding a few more years of aging will not miraculously transform it to become a better wine-we are not that lucky. And even premium wines, like those grand cru Bordeaux wines, are not guaranteed for long-term keeping. It depends on the vintage and basically the viscosity and body of the wine.

Stronger, high-tannin wines need time to mellow down before achieving its optimal flavor and taste profile. Only this type of wines, the full bodied, high tannin and well-oaked are worth cellaring.

2. White wine does not age

This is another sweeping statement. I know all of us at one time or another experienced bad white wines because we kept them too long before drinking. We see white wines that turn gold and amber in color, and lose its aromatic qualities. While we attribute it to lack of longevity of the whites, the usual culprit is poor storage. White wines are more sensitive to UV rays due to lightly colored or even transparent bottles. Also, white whites contain less tannins and alcohol, both factors in preserving the wine. Most white wines that does not last beyond three years are light-bodied wines.

This is in contrast to the fuller whites of Bordeaux, particularly the Sauternes and Barsac region, German Trockenbeerenauslese made from Riesling, and even the Coteaux du Layon wines of Loire made from Chenin Blanc. It is no coincidence that all these above-mentioned whites are on the sweeter, higher residual sugar side. For the dryer longer keeping whites, I would go with the Cote de Beaune, Burgundy trio of Meursault, Puligny Montrachet, and Chassagne Montrachet wines made from the omnipresent Chardonnay grapes.

3. Wine is a healthy drink

While this belief contributed to the huge renaissance of wines, in particular red wines in the late 1990s (the French Paradox syndrome), this is highly deceiving. I know… I’m in the wine trade, and a health endorsement can be very beneficial, but it is too general, and abuse of wine, like other alcoholic beverages, has its worst consequence. The health angle of wines come from the antioxidant and anti-clotting properties of flavanoids that fight cardiovascular diseases. It is more preventive than cure. On the other hand, too much alcohol intake will lead to cirrhosis of the liver, and eventually, liver cancer, which are both a lot more harmful.

So, wine, red or white, has to be taken in moderation, 2 to 3 glasses per meal is acceptable. That is why sharing a bottle (normal 750 ml) with a friend or loved one is always great. Each person can have maximum 3 glasses, well within the moderation rate. If you have two major meals a day, lunch and dinner, that can mean 6 glasses of wine a day or roughly 1 full bottle in a spaced out span of 7 to 8 hours. Not shabby at all.

4. Screwcap wines are cheap and of poor quality

It will probably take more than a lifetime (or maybe never) before a Screaming Eagle or Chateau Margaux will be closed in screwcap instead of natural cork-the former, a cult wine from Napa, being more a possibility than the latter French first growth grand cru Bordeaux wine.

The reason for this is mostly image and aesthetics. The New World wines have embraced this closure concept as evidenced by the surfacing screwcap-ed wines from Australia, California, New Zealand, and even South America. The screwcap closure or correctly termed as Stelvin, created from highest French technology, is actually an excellent closure. The Stelvin closure not only substitute for the dwindling problem of cork oaks, but it can eradicate the dreaded TCA (or Trichoroanisole) or “cork taint” that still affect over 2 percent of the world’s cork closure wines.

TCA is a compound that surfaced when chlorine used in cleaning and bleaching interacts with molds inherent in the cork. This can either happen in the cork producers side because chlorine solution is used to clean the bark of the cork oak, or at the winery. TCA is vulnerable in many areas of a winery’s bottling facilities, from drains, tanks to the barrels.

One of the largest wine markets in the world, the United Kingdom, is extremely partial to Stelvin closures due to their bad experience with corked wines and TCA. This has contributed to the popularity of Stelvin wines as of late. So, the bottom line is screwcap is a mere closure-nothing to do with quality.


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