Only a wine with a cork closure can be a really good wine! This is only one controversial statement amongst many others that splits wine enthusiasts all over the globe and leads to heated discussions… Let’s have a look behind the scenes and clear up some common myths about wine.
1. Pairing red wine with cheese – an ideal combination?
Finding the perfect match of wine and cheese can be a real culinary pleasure. As with any wine and food pairing, there are a number of considerations, such as texture, acidity, fat and tannins that have to be taken into account.
Contrary to the general opinion that pairing a red wine with cheese is the better choice than white wine, I believe that white wines match as good as or even better with cheese.
I would recommend to try the combination of a Roquefort cheese with a Sauternes or a Stilton with a port and encourage you to create your own combination. I am excited to get to know your favourite pairings!
2. The vintage is all that counts
Various influences can affect the grapes and lead to variations in the vintage from one year to the next: too little or too much rainfall at the wrong time, late frost, etc… Wine regions with cooler climates and higher variable weather conditions, like e.g. in France, tend to have greater variations between vintages and can give a vintner a hard time. However, for a good vintner this does not need to be an obstacle: Thanks to his experience he is able to produce a good wine anyhow. And should the quality be really very bad, the wine will not be bottled at all.
Vintage variations show that wine is a natural product. The fact that a wine doesn’t taste the same from one year to another makes it really exciting all the more.
3. Natural cork vs. screw cap – an indication of quality?
Cork is the traditional closure of a wine bottle and for many people a seal of quality. However, there are some surprising facts that show that the cork vs. screw cap argument is not as black and white as it seems at first glance.
Corks are the historically preferred closure for wine bottles and a natural renewable resource. But on the other hand, the use of a classic cork is a bit like a Russian roulette. Approximately 5% of all wine bottles have an unpleasant cork taint. Additionally, cork is expensive and a limited natural resource.
As a consequence, there are already renowned wineries, such as the Australian Penfolds, that experiment with alternative closures. But does a wine with a screw cap breathe? Studies have shown that corks and cork alternatives are nearly identical in terms of ageing and storing qualities. The challenge with cork alternatives is that they are mostly made from non-renewable resources and- not to be underestimated- that in the mind of many people it is associated with cheap wine, which makes it difficult for a winery to market high-quality wines with a screw cap.
4. Wine gets better with age
In fact, most wines aren’t meant for long cellaring. It depends on the grape variety and region if a wine is suitable for ageing. Most (simple) wines should be enjoyed within two years to keep its crispy, fruity and fresh taste. Those wines don’t get better but rather get worse with ageing, get old and spoil.
On the other hand, some fine wines are made for long term cellaring so that its flavor can fully develop. There are certain grape varieties, such Cabernets, Merlots or Malbec, typically grown in places with long warm summers and cool but not frosty winters, that are well suited for ageing. Wine with nice aging qualities are for example Bordeaux, Amarone, Barolo or wines from Napa Valley in the US.
5. Sulphites in wine cause headaches
Sulphites are a preservative to wine and have been added to wines for thousands of years. But should I be concerned about sulphites in wine? Most people don’t have any problems caused by sulphites – an exception are about 5% of people with a severe sulphite sensitivity. But in general, sulphites don’t cause headaches.
The reason for headaches after drinking wine is rather caused by drinking too much, too fast and becoming dehydrated.
As long as people enjoy wine there are many myths surrounding the tradtion of drinking wine – many of them are true of course, but many are also outdated… but in any case it is a very interesting discussion when you share your next bottle of wine with your friends…