Wine Rant - Misconceptions abound

Monday, 28 October, 2013
Adam Montefiore,
Time after time I hear preconceived ideas or myths about wine that I would dearly like to shatter. I have written a few statements below that reflect commonly held opinions, and then took great pleasure in writing what I think!
“Red wines are for those that understand.”

NO! The people who say, “I only drink red wines” are, more often than not, trying to explain how much of a wine maven they are. This to me is like a music lover who listens to one type of music and a gourmet who eats only one style of cuisine. How someone who really appreciates wine can drink only red wines is something I cannot fathom.

Fortunately, more and more people are realizing that there is far more variety in white wines than red. White wines are often better food wines than red. Also they are usually better value. And if none of the above, they are certainly far more suitable for our climate than reds. I have news for you: White wines are coming back in!

“A heavy bottle means quality.”

NO! It is a fact that many wineries invest in large, heavy bottles rather like a port bottle, an old beer bottle or worse, to try to give a feeling of quality. They do it because many customers are lulled into thinking that a wine is better if it comes in an impressively heavy bottle.

However, think of the poor sommeliers. How can they pour such heavy monstrosities? Think of the carbon footprint. Also think of the storage problems, as these overly muscled bottles don’t fit in standard wine racks or regular wine fridges.

I think of these heavy bottles like an old tart covered in makeup. What are the wineries trying to hide? Don’t be seduced into assuming that heavy means quality. It doesn’t.

“Red wines should be served at room temperature.”

NO! It is true that we have all been bought up to understand that red wines should be served at room temperature. However, the average room temperature has increased with the years, as have the alcohol levels of the wines.

I therefore firmly recommend putting your red wines, even the best reds, into the fridge for 20 minutes before you open them. This will result in the reds being only slightly chilled, and the wine will stay more together as it warms up in the glass.

Certainly in Israel, which is a hot country, and with high alcohol wines we have here, a slight cooling makes perfect sense. Also don’t be afraid to ask for an ice bucket for your reds in a restaurant.

“Follow the wine scores and wine critics.”

NO! This fad of scoring wines out of 100 was imported from America. I personally don’t like scores. I don’t score restaurants that I visit, music at concerts I listen to nor paintings at art galleries I visit. So why do we do it with wine? Also a score is such a definitive statement. When I open a red wine, it reveals itself slowly. Does one judge the wine at the first taste or after half an hour, two hours or even the next day, when the wine will either have deteriorated or may possibly be even better? No need to simplify something as complex as taste or that changes like wine.

Furthermore, I am not convinced that the wine critic, presumably a great expert, is the best person to taste for the regular consumer. I suggest you follow your nose. Know what you like and buy what you want. Just always be prepared to try new things all the time.

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