Sometimes, the conversations that come from tasting wines are as enjoyable as the experience itself. Can we all agree that it’s pretty enjoyable to talk to friends and family about a wine we’ve been loving? Or about something new we learned the last time we visited a winery? Of course, as it is with just about anything in life, it’s common for some misconceptions to creep into the conversation. We’ve decided to debunk some of the myths we hear most often for you to incorporate into your future conversations.
MISCONCEPTION: EXPENSIVE WINES ARE GUARANTEED TO BE THE BEST.
There are lots of factors that contribute to the price of a bottle of wine like the grape variety, the region, the barrels used for aging (new vs. used), if it is an imported wine, on and on. When you’re thinking about spending a bit more on that next bottle of wine than usual, (typically $50 to $100+), that wine comes with a certain expectation—that it’s going to be great. You can assume that any bottle over $50 was given the royal treatment from hand-harvesting to aging in expensive, often French oak, but taste and quality are entirely subjective. If you’re not a fan of Syrah, chances are you can appreciate a bottle that costs $75 and above, but you might prefer a $45 bottle of Cabernet. Our best advice: always try to sample any bottle before you buy, but if you can’t, or if you’re buying online, think about what you like, and be adventurous—it’s okay to try something outside your comfort zone if the story sounds good and you’re really intrigued.
MISCONCEPTION: ALL WINE IS MEANT TO BE AGED.
It’s quite common to think that all wine should be aged, but that’s not quite the case—certain grape varieties are meany for early consumption, like Sauvignon Blanc, while others are produced for the long haul like most Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the Sebastiani Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, which will develop rich complexities if properly stored in a cool, dark cellar over a decade or more. As with anything, there are exceptions to the rule. Bottom line? Enjoy wine however you like to enjoy it.
MISCONCEPTION: BOTTLES WITH CORKS ARE BETTER THAN BOTTLES WITH SCREW CAPS.
Sorry, cork-lovers, but this is one major misconception that’s been debunked, and continues to lose ground as more and more research shows screw caps help protect the wine from oxidation differently than corks do, while some companies are engineering screw caps with micro-pores to help mimic the effects of cork aging. The benefit? No corked wine, ever. The downside? No more “pop” of the cork. For a deeper dive, check out our article “Should You Judge a Wine by How It’s Sealed.”
MISCONCEPTION: THE SULFITES IN RED WINE ARE THE CAUSE OF YOUR HEADACHES.
It is a common belief that the sulfites in red wine are the cause of those pesky headaches, but according to Sebastiani’s winemaker, David Nakaji, something else is the cause. He says, “The source of headaches in red wine is generally the histamines. It is mistakenly thought to come from sulfites, but if that were true, people would get more headaches from white wine and dried fruit. Histamines are produced from bacteria during fermentation. The cleaner the fermentation, the fewer the histamines, but there is not a whole lot of control to prevent at least some histamine formation.”
MISCONCEPTION: RED WINE CAN’T GO WITH FISH OR WHITE MEAT.
This was mentioned in the Basic Wine Pairing Guide for Beginners article, but the fact is that red wine CAN pair with fish and white meat. When pairing a dish, you have to think about the sauce as well, so if you have chicken with a heavy Marsala sauce, for instance, consider pouring a hearty red wine, which will complement the dish. Salmon is another great example of a fish dish that can pair nicely with a red. As Salmon is a fatty fish, the high-acidity of Pinot Noir tends to cut through the fat of the oils better than Chardonnay, which tends to be lower in acidity. Should that stop you from enjoying Salmon with Chardonnay? No way. The number one rule is that there really are no rules. Cheers to that!