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MYTHBUSTERS

‘fiction is written with reality and reality is written with fiction’

MYTH: WINE CRITICS KNOW WHICH WINE IS BEST FOR YOU

Turning to critics for advice is natural. We do it all the time. When many wine drinkers hear that a wine received a 90-plus point rating from a wine critic, they go out of their way to get that wine. The curiosity to try a wine that scores well is understandable, but the rigid belief that such a wine is (a) necessarily a great wine and (b) a wine you’ll like is simply misguided.

 

Both consumers and producers of wine are guilty of placing too much faith in the “superior” palates of professional judges. Customers see a golden seal on a bottle as a sign of high quality, when in reality they’re doled out based on junk science and unsubstantiated opinion. So instead of buying wine that’s been approved by so-called experts, trust your own opinion — it’s likely just as valid.

 

Remember, the critics’ scores are nothing more than the critics’ professional opinion — and opinion, like taste, is always personal.

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MYTH: THE MORE EXPENSIVE THE WINE, THE BETTER IT TASTES.

When it comes to differentiating expensive wine from the cheap stuff, most people haven’t got a clue. One survey asked hundreds of people to identify the price range of a wine they had just sampled. Surprisingly, the participants were wrong so often that they would have been better off flipping a coin. And a different study showed that people enjoyed what they were told were expensive wines more than cheap wines, even if the actual wines had no price difference.

MYTH: BOXED WINE IS FOR PLEBIANS.

Boxed wine is portable, durable, and cheap, which is why so many wine snobs still turn their noses up at it. But any costs that are saved come from shipping and packaging, not from cuts made to the quality of the wine itself.

MYTH: THE OLDER THE WINE, THE BETTER IT IS

If you’ve ever kept an unopened bottle of wine in your pantry for years, waiting for it to increase in quality and value, you might have been wasting your time. A whopping 90 percent of all wine produced in the Bordeaux region is meant to be consumed within a year or two from when it’s made, and many wine enthusiasts actually prefer wine when it’s young and fresh.

MYTH: BOTTLES WITH A CORK STOPPER ARE BETTER THAN BOTTLES WITH TWIST-OFF TOPS.

Screw caps have been used on wine bottles since the 1950s, but some people still insist on labeling them as inferior to cork. The reality is that screw-caps have actually been proven to perform as well as corks in protecting wine from harmful oxidation.

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MYTH: SWEET WINES ARE FOR AMATEURS.

Those who prefer their wine sweet are often classified as unsophisticated and pedestrian. In reality, some of the most prized and revered wines in the world land on the sweeter side. Riesling appears on the list of most expensive wines more than once, and French Sauternes rank up there with the best wines money can buy. One of the greatest joys in life is relaxing with a glass of dessert wine after a meal, and no one should be bullied into denying themselves that.

MTYH: A HEAVIER BOTTLE EQUALS HIGHER QUALITY

This myth started decades ago when the Italians and the French used dark, heavy bottles to indicate more serious wines. This practice has since been hijacked by marketers who use it to sell wine that’s less classy than its packaging would suggest. These hefty bottles come with a price tag to match, which is enough to convince some consumers that the wine is high quality. However, the greater price is actually just a sign of inflated shipping costs. Do your wrists and your wallet a favor and opt for something more lightweight.

MYTH: BLENDED WINES ARE INFERIOR.

Blended wines, as the name suggests, are made using two different types of grapes. These are usually cheaper, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth drinking. A skilled blender is capable of combining two inexpensive varieties of grapes to develop big flavors. Some winemakers are even able to pass off their blends as authentic varietals (wines made from one variety of grape), fooling even top-class experts.

MYTH: IN POOR VINTAGES, NO WINES ARE GOOD.

Vintage ratings are useful as general, broad indicators of the climatic conditions in a particular region in a certain year. But in every region in every vintage, almost without exception, great wines are made and poor wines are made. Ultimately, the quality of any finished wine is a reflection of the skills of the producer, not just the vagaries of the weather.