Wine is full of myths, prohibitions and taboos, certainties and uncertainties. The language of wine is naturally complicated, with adjectives and a speech that is not always understandable. The myths add even more noise and disturbance to the difficulty of communication. They are new and old beliefs, stories passed down from generation to generation, faulty interpretations of reality. Ancient and modern myths. Many are so ingrained in the popular imagination that ended up being considered absolute certainties difficult to refute. Here are some of the most common stories.
The older the better
Most wine is thought to be consumed within a relatively short period of time. Most rosé wines have a one year shelf-life, the white wines of two years, the red wines between four to five years. Don’t wait too long to open their bottles. The few wines that are thought to last for years, decades, are exceptional wines … and, unfortunately, they are normally very expensive.
A “Reserve wine” is better than a “normal” wine. The words “Reserve”, “Selected Harvest” or “Wine cellar” mean guaranteed quality
The adjectives above are not directly related to the wine quality, determining the minimum period of ageing in bottle and/or barrel instead. Statements like “Partners Harvest”, “Selected harvest”, “Special selection”, “Personal Reserve” or other references are messages without any legal binding and no direct association with the quality of the wine.
DOC wines (Demarcated wines with controlled production methods) are necessarily better than a “Regional” wine
Not necessarily. In order to be considered DOC, a wine has to obey very strict rules, particularly in what regards the use of authorized and recommended grape varieties. If a producer uses a grape variety that is not recommended for a certain region, he won’t be allowed to use the designation DOC.
Table wine is synonymous of bad wine
The quality of table wine is often not very exciting and rarely deserves major considerations. There are however exceptions and sometimes the table wine is of exceptional quality.
More expensive wines are better
In a free market the price of wine is determined not only by the production costs but also by its scarcity, by fashion, by the media influence, by good promotional campaigns, etc.
The white wine can’t age well and it must be drunk as soon as possible
White wines thought to be aged are relatively rare but there are living examples of wines that age admirably. The wines of the grape varieties Alvarinho, Encruzado and Bical and from the wider regions of the Douro are the best Portuguese examples.
Rosé wine is a blend of white wine and red wine
Rosé wine is made exclusively with red grapes. Only “palhete” wine can be produced from a blend of white and red grapes. Rosé wine spends little time in maceration with the skins and as a result they do not have space to extract a lot of dye. The resulting wine displays a more open and pinkish color.
The real great wines don’t taste well while they are young and they just get better with age
Don’t believe it! The great wines are superb since birth and do not become fantastic miraculously with the ageing process. A poor wine will never become a good wine.
The good wine is the wine of the farmer. Others are full of chemicals and other weird stuff
This is rarely true, and it could only happen for a miracle. In fact, most wines from the farmer have a series of bacteriological flaws. Wine is a food product that must follow precise and stringent hygiene standards and that does not receive additives, dyes, or preservatives.
Older wines should always be decanted
As odd as this may seem, it is more important to decant young wines while they are young than when they are aged. Older wines, due to their extreme fragility, rarely stand the shock of decanting. When the wine has created deposit, even in the case of old wines, there is no possible alternative to the decanting of wine.
Is the sediment a flaw?
No, the sediment represents a natural precipitation process and it is absolutely harmless. White wines can also submit deposit on the form of tartars, small white crystals that resemble pieces of glass or grains of sugar.
Is the sediment on the bottle a sign of quality?
No, it just means that the wine has not been filtered aggressively. Nothing ensures the quality of the wine or the lack of it.
When I open a wine should I let the wine breathe by removing the stopper one hour before serving it?
Despite being a recurring practice it does not have any utility. The surface in contact with the air is so limited in relation to the volume to oxygenate that practical results are non-existent. The only viable alternative is the decanting of the wine.
The tears in the glass are an indicator of quality
The formation of tears is irrelevant and does not portray any symptom of quality. The higher the alcohol content and/or sugar the greater will be the tendency to the creation of tears. On the other hand the type of detergents used in the washing of the glasses can induce or inhibit the emergence of tears.
Once opened, the wine becomes vinegar
It can eventually happen, but this is a lengthy process that can only happen after a long period of time after opening a bottle. After opening the bottle, the wines oxidize and that is the symptom and the flaw detected.
The red wine is beneficial to our health but not the white wine
There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Of course, wine is always harmful when consumed in excess.
The fish should be accompanied with white wine and meat with red wine
The harmony between food and wine depends not only on the products but also on the way they are cooked. A grilled fish requires a different wine than when it is roasted, the same way a Tuna steak has a different texture than a John Dory filet.
The cheese should be accompanied by red wine or Port Wine
Depends on the cheese and personal taste. In what concerns soft cheeses, the most common in Portugal, white wine provides more consistent and happier harmonies. The natural acidity of white wine contrasts better with the fattiness of soft cheese … and with many other cheese.