Misconceptions about wine

As a group who want to promote local wines and the traditions of our area, we feel it is important to offer advice about appreciating wine and counter some misconceptions which large scale commercial wine makers find useful to disseminate. These are repeated as truths among less aware people, and contribute to a devaluing of the kind of local wines and traditions we appreciate and promote.

1. Expensive wines are automatically the best.

While some expensive wines are expensive because of their quality, this is far from a universal rule. It’s true that some wines have been invested in heavily, or are expensive due to years of traditional methods which are tried and tested and known to produce excellent wines with intense flavors. However, it is just as likely that a local winemaker will produce something worthy, due to their own methods, willingness to experiment, particular local qualities, personal techniques, etc. And some expensive wines are expensive because they are symbolic of a certain class and allure, rather than due to their individual merits.

2. Proper wines are sealed with a cork.

This is a tradition, but actually there is no evidence that a cork is required in the aging process. Some wines sealed with a screw top are just as good or possibly even better, even though they don’t include that status symbol – while cheap wines are often sealed with a cork to make them look more

3. Wines with a lot of tannins just need to be aged for longer.

This is partially true. As a wine ages, tannins drop out of the solution. That’s why older wines need to be decanted prior to drinking, to separate off the layer of tannins. However, if a wine is unbalanced before it is allowed to age, then it is unlikely to age into a better wine.

4. The longer a wine has been aged, the better it will be.

Actually, wines aged for longer than a decade are unlikely to get any further benefit from the aging process, and it may in fact adversely affect their quality.

5. Only beginners drink sweet wines.

There are some astounding sweet wines with a depth of flavor, including wines which are worth putting aside to age. If someone claims only amateur wine tasters appreciate sweeter wines, it’s a sure sign that they themselves are an amateur and are trying to cover for their lack of experience by repeating a truism. Indeed, sweet wines are the most appropriate for some occasions and some meals, and the true connoisseur will appreciate a good wine regardless of whether it is classified as sweet, even if it is not to their personal taste.

6. It’s not worth aging a white wine.

While red wines tend to be more popular for aging, and a greater range of them are probably worth the attempt, there are plenty of white wines which deserve consideration for an aging process. Vintage Champagne, for example, and some dry white wines, are perfect for aging and will improve the same as any red wine.