I am always looking for interesting ideas and this past week my inspiration light bulb came while watching the Discovery channel show MythBusters with my children. It had me thinking of the many questions surrounding the mounds of contradictory advice in the wine world. As with many myths some are handed down from experts, some tradition and sadly, most woven in by pseudo experts. So Mythbuster style, here are some wine myths and my take on if they are confirmed, plausible or busted.
Wines should be served in distinct glassware.
Wine professionals will often taste hundreds of wines side by side. During my humble 10 years judging on panels my “tasting” glass continues to be the ISO glass. At most events we use a single glass through whites, reds, ports and sweets. For most, it is the detergent used for washing the glass that is more distracting than the traces of the previous wines. That being said, professional tasters are not having an experience of drinking wine over a lovely meal where the rows of glasses for several courses offer a picture-perfect dining encounter. Master of wine and author Jancis Robinson thoughts, “The practicalities of having a set of the perfect gasses for each wine type defeat me and my cupboard space. The main thing is have a clear glass that is as thick as possible with a bowl on the stem that goes in towards the rim so that you can swirl to release aromas without losing either wine or vapor.” Plausible, in the sense that a wine glass will offer more enjoyment than say, a paper cup. But for the most part busted.
You must always smell the cork when the waiter hands it to you.
The purpose of the waiter offering the cork is so the consumer can check to see if the cork is broken or for the presence of mold. The process of smelling the cork does not indicate the quality of the wine or if it has been tainted from the cork. The only way of confirming if the wine is clean is by tasting. Busted.
Wines should be decanted before serving.
Professor Emile Peynaud (1912-2004), world-renowned scientist, taster and teacher, argued that oxygen coming in contact with a sound wine does more harm than good. His theory was that the longer the wine was aerated during decanting the more diffuse its aromas and less marked its sensory attributes. He advised to only decant wines with sediment and only just before serving. This theory is easily proven in fragile, fully developed 20 to 30 year old wines. Many of these wines are so delicate they can only withstand minutes in a glass before giving in to the negative impact of aeration, which is oxidation. Busted, with the exception of wines with sediment.
The “legs” or “tears” can judge the quality of a wine.
The “legs” or “tears” are the viscous streams that run down the inside of the glass. If you swirl the glass, the “legs” are more noticeable. More pronounced legs do not indicate quality, only a higher amount of alcohol. Busted.
You should age all red wines.
By no means does every wine improve with age. As much as 98 percent of still wines (those excluding sparkling and fortified) are produced to be consumed within a few years. Confusion around this myth is why many people are sadly disappointed when they open saved bottles only to find that the wine has turned to vinegar. Busted.