There are several myths that make good wine trivia. These myths and truths are a great way to quiz your wine loving friends and give them and yourself and education at the same time. Here are the top ten wine myths revealed.
1. Aged Wine is Better than Young Wine
Not all wines require aging. In fact, many wines are intended to be drunk young and they do not require aging. Typically, red wines that have high tannins are the only wines that require aging. There are also some white wines that will benefit from aging, such as Rieslings, but in general they are intended to be drunk young as well. There are also those wines that taste worse after being aged and those that will not change much at all.
2. Red Wine Should Never Be Chilled
There are some light reds such as the Beaujolais that will benefit from being chilled. Beaujolais Nouveau is the first wine that is made from each year’s harvest. The wine was originally made for the workers of the winery, but the wine quickly spread in popularity to local bistros. There are several festivals that are held around the world that celebrate the wine’s release.
3. “Reserve” Wines Are Top of the Line
On American labels, “reserve” has no true meaning and is used at the discretion of the winemaker. The term is often used to designate a special wine, although the reputation of the vineyard will often have an effect on the quality and price of the wine.
4. Wines With Sulfates Will Give You a Headache
Sulfates only cause headaches in about one percent of the population and this tends to be those who suffer from asthma. Sulfates are naturally present in wine and sulfur is abundant in various forms in all living things. Sulfites are used as a preservative by winemakers worldwide and only the United States notes the sulfite warning on the label. The amounts of added sulfites are small and all whites will have more than reds.
There are several other reasons that you may be having a headache. These causes may be:
- Histamines: Histamines cause the blood vessels in your brain to dilate and are higher in red wines than whites. They are found in aged and fermented foods.
- Tyramines: Found in cultured foods such as cheese and yogurt as well as ferment foods such as wine, dark beer, soy sauce, chocolate and a few other foods. Tyramines cause your blood vessels to constrict.
- Congeners: These are organic compounds that are found in the by-products of the fermentation process and give wine its flavor. When they enter your blood stream, the immune system recognizes them as poisons and releases cytokines to eliminate them. These are more prevalent in red wines.
- Prostaglandins: These are naturally occurring in your body and are pain producers. The dilation of the arteries triggers their release. They may also be responsible for migraine headaches.
- Sensitivities to Elements in Wine Production: Some people are sensitive to certain types of wood while other are sensitive to the chemicals that are used in a particular area.
5. All German Wines Are Sweet
There are a variety of German wines and they range from dry to very sweet like wines that are produced in various other countries. If you see “trocken” on a German wine label it means “dry.”
6. Screw tops Are a Sign of Cheap Wine
More and more wineries are using screw tops so that they may avoid cork contamination of their wines. Don’t be surprised if you find a high dollar bottle with a screw top.
7. Wines Should Always Breathe
Allowing a wine to breathe is generally only necessary for those wines that need further aging. Breathing also allows the wine to be exposed to air and to soften the tannins.
8. All Wines Have the Same Amount of Alcohol
The level of alcohol in a wine depends on the amount of sugar that has been converted during fermentation. There are also wines that have been fortified with alcohol to raise the alcohol content.
9. The More a Wine Costs, the Better It Is
The price of a wine depends on numerous factors. The land of the vineyard, the price of the packaging, the types of grapes that are used, how the wine is aged and the reputation of the winery or winemaker all have an effect on the price of a bottle of wine. You may find a fairly expensive bottle of wine and think that it will be good when in fact you wish you hadn’t spent so much on it.
10. Zinfandel is a Pink Wine
Zinfandel is actually a red grape, but the name has become very popular due to the blush wine, the White Zinfandel. There are several good red Zinfandels.
I think you mean sulphites (or sulfites) in number 4, not sulfates. Sulphates are non-toxic, non-volatile and not allergenic.
(Wine Science Lecturer)