The process of making wine is one of nature’s most mysterious and magical transformations, but with all that magic comes a ton of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and flat-out wacky claims. Think anything that comes in a bottle, has a cork, and contains alcohol is good for you heart? Do you flaunt the thick “legs” on the inside of your glass as a sign of top quality? Ever find yourself popping the cork on a bottle to let it “breathe” before you drink? If you answered yes to any of these questions continue reading to get the real juice behind five popular wine myths.
1. Wine is heart-healthy, so grab a glass of Chardonnay and you’re good to go.
Wrong! What makes wine beneficial to cardiovascular health are antioxidants such as flavonoids or resveratrol (a non-flavonoid antioxidant) which originate in the skins of red grapes. So if you’re looking to reap the health benefits of wine, ditch the Sauvignon Blanc and stick with something red.
2. Wines that generate those sexy, syrupy “legs” on the inside of your glass are superior in quality to wines that don’t.
Wrong again! Those thick “legs” that run down the inside of your glass when you give your wine a swirl are not at all indicators of quality, but indicators of a wine’s alcohol level. The higher the alcohol, the thicker and more viscous the “legs.” That’s all!
3. Wine production has a huge carbon footprint.
While it’s true that many commercial wineries contribute to the deterioration of our planet through a high level of carbon emissions, more and more wineries around the globe are beginning to convert to solar and wind power to fuel their operations. Many wineries are also beginning to use alternative packaging such as Bag-In-Box, TetraPaks, and lightweight aluminum cans to avoid the environmental cost of shipping heavy glass bottles around the world. Other wineries that insist on using glass bottles for aesthetic reasons are converting to recycled glass to reduce the excessive waste of raw materials.
4. Uncorking a bottle of wine an hour before you drink it allows the wine to “breathe” and open up.
One of the main reasons to decant wine is to expose a large part of the wine’s surface area to oxygen, which will help mellow a young wine’s grippy tannins (this is particularly relevant to red wines which are higher in tannin than white wines). Merely uncorking a bottle and letting it sit on the counter for an hour before you dive in doesn’t do much in the way of exposing a large part of the wine’s surface area to oxygen, so this tactic is pretty much ineffective. If you want your wine to “breath” and soften up, pour it into a decanter (or into a pitcher, vase, or any other rounded vessel for that matter) an hour prior to drinking and you’ll be golden!
5. An open bottle of wine that’s been re-corked will last up to three weeks in the fridge.
Not true! After an open bottle of wine has been sitting in your fridge for three or four weeks, you’re better off using it to steam clams (if it’s white) or braise short ribs (if it’s red) than to drink it straight. Although an open bottle of white tends to last a few days longer than an open bottle of red, I wouldn’t drink either after it’s been open for more than three or four days max, unless, that is, you enjoy drinking flat, insipid, oxidized wine!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by cygnoir