For some, the world of wine can be mysterious and intimidating, filled with curious words and strange customs. Despite today’s easy access to information, there are still many misconceptions regarding this ancient beverage.
Even if your wine know-how is more advanced than that of the average sipper, you might learn a thing or two from our list of common wine myths.
Myth #1: Wine is loaded with calories
Although wine labels don’t include nutritional information (that’s another topic), the average 5-ounce glass of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon has 123 calories, according to calorielab.com. Other alcohols like beer and mixed drinks have far more calories. Drier varieties of wine have fewer calories than sweeter wines.
The new low-calorie “skinny” wines average out at 95 to 100 calories. Personally, I’d rather stick with the real thing and skip the bread basket.
Myth #2: All rosé is sweet
No doubt about it, there’s a plethora of sweet, pink wine to choose from. True rosés — such as those from Provence — are dry by law. The wines have little to no residual sugar and lots of ripe berry, melon and citrus notes. These are thirst-quenching choices, especially in the summer.
Myth #3: You can tell by the “legs” when you’re drinking a great wine
When someone talks about the “legs” of a wine, they’re referring to the way the liquid “sheets” form “tears” after it’s been swishing around in the glass.
Legs can be an indicator of several things, such as the amount of alcohol or sugar in the wine. It can’t tell you anything about the actual quality; only you can determine that by smelling and tasting.
Myth #4: A red wine needs lots of oak aging in new barrels to be “big”
The main element that gives wine body — a presence on the palate — is tannin. It lurks in the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes, so wines made from thicker-skinned varieties tend to be “big” by nature — think Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Tannat, to name a few.
If you prefer wines with robust aromas that remind you of dark fruits, spicy berries, tobacco, and smoky bacon, filling your palate with lingering flavors, perhaps the grape variety itself plays a bigger role than you might think.
Myth #5: Once opened, a bottle of red wine can last up to 10 days in the fridge
Well, the wine might “last,” but it will cease to be wine as we know it.
It’s not that the contents spoil like those neglected leftovers that find their way to the hidden depths of your refrigerator, but it will lose the lovely aromas that made you want to drink it in the first place.
The moment you open a bottle of wine, you expose it to oxygen. When you have a partially filled bottle of wine, more oxygen is in that bottle, too. And it will begin to degrade the various aromatic compounds.
A variety of preservation methods on the market will slow down the process and buy you a few extra days to enjoy the bottle.
Solution: sip and enjoy as soon as possible!
Myth #6: All sommeliers are snobs and will force you to buy the most expensive wine on the list
Unfortunately, the word sommelier still conjures up images of snooty men in tuxedos with tasting cups hanging around their necks.
Things have changed. Today’s “Somm” is more likely to force you to be adventurous in your wine selection or talk your ear off about their newest regional fixation than intimidate you into blowing your budget.
If you are lucky enough to be in a dining establishment with a sommelier, take advantage of their passion and knowledge. Tell them what you usually enjoy. With a few questions and answers, they can guide you to the best choice for both your palate and wallet.
About the author: Hilarie Larson is a Certified Specialist of Wine and Wine Educator who loves to write and teach about wine in all its many facets. She received the “2013 Emerging Writer Scholarship Award” from the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. Visit Northwinds Wine Consulting to learn more about bringing the enjoyment of wine to your private or corporate event.