I know a fair bit about wine, but that wasn’t always the case. In my earlier wine-drinking days I made some assumptions, like we all do, that I have since realized are simply not the case.
Here are some things I thought (and possibly said out loud!) about wine, before I knew better.
Wine in a bottle with a cork is better than in a bottle with a screw cap.
Not so! In the past, ‘fine’ wine was sealed with a cork and more ‘budget’ wines tended to be sealed with screw caps, entrenching a belief that, if you were a true connoisseur, screw caps were beneath you. But nowadays cork is becoming more and more scarce and the technology used in screw caps is getting better and better, which means the line between the quality of wine and the method of sealing is blurring. These days the argument of cork v. screw cap isn’t nearly as meaningful in terms of wine quality.
People who swirl their wine and make weird sounds are pompous weirdos.
Ok, they sometimes are, but there IS a reason for why they do that! It turns out that the slurping and swishing people do when tasting wine is aerating it, forcing oxygen into the wine to enhance or change the flavour. Still slightly weird and definitely nerdy, but at least there’s a good reason.
French wine is the pinnacle, and is always magically better than other wines.
I guess this one is still pretty hotly debated, but my point here is that there are great wines from places that don’t sound like the chef from the Little Mermaid. Most articles that talk about the best wine regions will, of course, mention France (it’s got this reputation for a reason!) but Italy, Spain, the US, Australia and South Africa usually get top marks as well.
Only rich (and probably snobby) people can afford to really get into wine.
I used to think that you had to spend thousands of dollars to really learn about and enjoy wine. It was only after I met my stepdad that I really realized that’s just not true. You can find a bottle that tastes great (and is even worth cellaring!) at a bargain price – you just have to learn how to spot them. Over the last few years I’ve learned that there are so many factors that help determine the price of a wine – country, region, varietal, popularity, how good the winery’s marketing department is. It’s not just about the wine itself. Which is kind of a no brainer when you think about it. Wine is like any other industry!
It’s more important to know what wine is good according to people who really ‘know’ than according to yourself.
Ok, listen up because this is the big one. I don’t have a link to share that will illustrate by point, but it still stands. YOU are the one buying and drinking the wine, so why should it matter more what other people think of it? If there is a $10 bottle out there that you keep getting because it tastes like ambrosia, then go for it! The opinions and writings of other, more ‘experienced’ wine people is only meant to be a guide to help you learn and be able to make your own decisions. Got it? Good.
These misconceptions aren’t the end of the world, really. And on a brighter note, they show how far my wine knowledge and experience has come, so it can’t be all that bad to go back and revisit them from time to time. Especially since wine is an ever-evolving industry, it’s good to check your assumptions every now and then to see which ones still hold up and which might need tweaking.
So, if you’re just starting out on your wine journey and possibly feeling a little shy about it, have no fear, everyone starts somewhere!
What are your assumptions about wine?