Wine myths: don't believe everything you drink

Friday, 20 September, 2013
Hamish Anderson, The Telegraph
Always serve red wine at room temperature? Port and cheese are perfect partners? Hamish Anderson punctures the five biggest myths about wine.
Red wine should be served at room temperature. This is more a modern untruth than a myth, as when the concept was introduced it was sound advice. The trouble is that the idea emerged in the late 19th century, when Victorian houses were considerably cooler than today's homes. The truth is, no red should be served over 20 degrees (and lighter styles such as Pinot Noir want to be cooler still); these days, both in the summer and winter, our houses are hotter than that. Warm red tastes sickly, heavy and it accentuates the alcohol – the only benefit being you and your guests will consume less.

Wine does not travel. You are on holiday with friends, by the pool, it is warm, the local salami tastes like nectar from the gods and in the glass is a white/red/rosé that was dispensed from a petrol pump at a Euro a litre. It tastes delicious, so you buy a few bottles, bring them home and open them at your next party. It tastes foul - the wine "has not travelled". Wrong: it is you and your tastebuds that have not travelled. Frankly, everything tastes good when you are relaxing on holiday. Context is everything when enjoying wine; mood and environment exert a powerful influence on how much pleasure you derive from a bottle.

Port and cheese go well together.
Another victim of history, Port works wonderfully with British hard cheeses that would have made up a traditional board. A tangy cheddar or salty Stilton is a lovely contrast to sweet Port (the same concept of sweet and sour in Chinese cookery). Today, our platters groan with foreign imports: runny, gooey, smelly, goaty numbers that are wholly unsuited to port. Brie and port is horrid. Worse still are washed-rind cheeses like the home-grown Stinking Bishop. Many of the best cheese partners are white – the French drink local Sauvignon Blancs with the wonderful goats’ cheeses of the Loire. It is nigh on impossible to find a happy partner to a big and varied cheeseboard, so do as the Europeans often do and serve just one, or save your great bottle of port/red as a post-cheese tipple.

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