Few areas of human consumption and enterprise are more weighed down with myth, exaggeration and misinformation than wine – so let’s dispel some of the myths!
Always serve red wine at room temperature
This is all well and good – but what exactly is ‘room temperature? This really just means do not serve chilled. But again, this depends on the wine being served. Some young, vibrant and early-drinking red wines benefit from being chilled for a few minutes – especially for summer drinking. Look for wines with little or no wood ageing – they should be as young as possible and low in alcohol. Varieties that can be great slightly chilled are Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Dolcetto and Grenache.
You should only drink red wine with red meat
Today, when it comes to pairing wine with food, there are no hard and fast rules. The old adage of “red wine with meat and white wine with white meat and fish,” while a useful guide, is no longer entirely relevant. These days, you are more likely to hear, “drink what you like, eat what you like.” Red wines typically pair well with red meat because meat stands up to the tannins, but you can also substitute red wines with rich, full-bodied whites.
Opening a bottle of red wine an hour before you drink it allows the wine to open up or “breathe”
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 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 pour it doesn’t do much in the way of exposing a large part of the wine’s surface area to oxygen. To allow the wine to “breath” and soften up, it needs to be poured into a decanter an hour before drinking.
All red wines improve with age
Not true. The truth is that most wine isn’t meant to age. Most wine is released within two years of being grapes in a vineyard and then drunk within six months of purchase - while they are young, aromatic, fruity and fresh. Quality, well-made wines often have the ability to age. Reds with high acidity and a good tannin structure tend to age well. The most obvious candidates for long-term ageing in the bottle are reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz and Nebbiolo.
The more expensive the wine – the better the quality
While in theory, this should be true – it often is not and should only be used as a guide to gauge quality rather than the rule. In reality, some wines are just overpriced. The trick is to find wines that you love for a price that also makes you smile!