Myths about Wine

by Lucy McLeod

Selecting the right wine can be an intimidating task, especially with all the confusion, dated stereotypes and straight up misinformation that's developed over the centuries. The truth is you don’t have to be any sort of wine expert to unravel some of the stories that have prevailed for years, so let’s debunk six of the biggest myths about wine.

1. Only red wine has health benefits

It’s now fairly accepted that a sneaky red or two a day can prove beneficial for your cardiovascular health. Red wines are packed with a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol that is found in the skin of grapes. Its been hypothesised that white and sparkling wines do not reap these same benefits as the grape skins are removed much earlier in the winemaking process. But don’t discount your favourite Chardonnay just yet – paler wines are marginally lower in calories and some studies suggest that they too have some cardiovascular properties and can positively impact on lung function. 

2. Wine sealed with a screw top are of lower quality

Closing wine with a cork may have been the preferred method for centuries but it's not as practical as it once was. Screw tops reduce the chance of the wine being spoiled by oxidisation or contamination and increase the level of uniformity between each bottle. Bottles intended to let age for a significant time may benefit from being sealed with a cork but in this day and age screw tops are becoming the new normal for sealing all wine, not just the cheap stuff. 

3. Champagne is just fancy sparkling wine

Although often used as such, Champagne is not a generic term for expensive sparkling wine. Champagne is sparkling wine produced from grapes grown exclusively in the French region of Champagne using specific processes unique to the region. Fun fact: It is actually illegal to label any other sparkling wines as Champagne. 

champagne cork lying on table

Time to un-wine-d?

4. Aged wines are the best wines

Chances are you’ve come across someone in your life who has declared they are like a fine wine, “getting better with age”. Unfortunately this analogy isn’t quite on the money. Most wines, even the good stuff, won’t get much better with ageing. The best candidates for aging are red wines but even then, most modern reds aren’t really intended to age for longer than five years. They also need to be properly stored in a cool, dark climate controlled environment (like a cellar) to reach their potential. Honestly, in a lot of cases aged wines are so pricy simply because demand outstrips supply. 

5. Organic wines wont give you a headache

Alas, overindulging in any type of wine is almost guaranteed to give you a hangover the next morning. This myth stems from the reduced number of sulfites found in organic wine (most winemakers add additional sulfites to their wine to help preserve them). But unless you’re deathly allergic to sulfites, they aren’t the culprit for your thumping headache. You can blame the naturally occurring histamines in wine for that.

6. The experts know best

Different tastes and preferences are all a matter of personal opinion. While sommeliers and winemakers may have one opinion on what constitutes a ‘good’ wine based on all sorts of tangible scientific factors; if you don’t like it there’s no point buying a bottle. If you like to drink Champagne from a coffee mug or chill your glass of Chardonnay with ice cubes, go right ahead. Wine is there to be enjoyed and if you enjoy it, it’s a good choice for you.

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