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Untangled Vine

An attempt to sort through all things wine. Specifically of, and about, but not limited to: Food and Wine in Toledo, Ohio. Plus the day to day musings of a Wine Distributor...
 

Winemythsbusted

Wine seems to have unfairly surrounded itself with pomp & circumstance, not to mention mystery and lore. Since we tend to put wine on a pedestal, symbolic of a high society that only a fraction of us have ever experienced, we accept these bizarre practices without question. We don’t question which fork to use, and we are always musing about the strange things a visitor can do in far off lands to offend the residents. Given our unfamiliarity with these topics, we buy into everything we’ve been told, and this has been a detriment to wine. This is an attempt to clear up some confusion, although, this, I suspect is only the tip of the iceberg, we will most likely revisit this topic in future issues.


Winemyth #1- “Legs mean the wine is good”- I can’t tell you how often I hear “oh, look at the legs on this wine!” For those of you that don’t run in those circles, legs are the streams of wine that trickle down the glass after you swirl the wine around a bit. “Legs” come from wine sticking to the glass, which can be caused by any of the following: high alcohol, a dirty glass, or a more viscous wine. While many professional sommeliers use this technique to analyze and identify wines in a blind tasting, this never, ever speaks to a wine’s quality.

Winemyth #2-“All wine improves with age”- While many of the wine produced today are meant to settle down a bit, and a few rare wines are meant to lay down for years, 98% of the wines available in the store right now are current vintage wines meant to be consumed within the next 1-2 years. After which point, all of the flavors will diminish until the wine turns brown, and stops resembling wine at all. As a very general rule, the more you pay for a bottle, the better chance you have of aging it. The fact is that most producers are creating wines that show well upon release, this helps their scores in the wine rags (magazines that put a score on wine), but all but stops their aging potential. The wines that will age well and improve over time are usually from a few select regions, made from specific grapes. If you are ever curious about the age worthiness of a wine, ask your local fine wine shop. One of my favorite wine stats is the average amount of time an American ages a bottle of wine- 42 minutes.

Winemyth #3-Any use of the word dry”-Speaking eloquently about wine is a challenge even for professionals, but this is just frustrating. Almost every casual consumer of wine misuses this term, and overuses this term. Every person has a different perception of what dry is. Here is what I have seen dry refer to, and each term means something completely different: tannins, acidity, alcohol, big fruit, short finishes plus many more. What it really means is: an unsweet style, as in, no sugar. While there is room for dry as an adjective when describing some wines, please refrain from the use of the word dry. It is without exception, the most confusing paradigm in the wine lexicon. And don’t feel stupid, everyone gets frustrated by the challenge of describing something so special as a glass of a really good wine. It takes some practice. Next time you try a wine you love, find out what it is, and write down some flavors (real terms that make sense, cherry, strawberry, peaches, honey, leather, etc…) then go to your local fine wine shop and ask the person there to help you to figure out what you liked about that wine. You’ll be surprised how much better this works than trying to use dry.

Just remember one thing: wine is an everyday beverage that we have complicated far too much over the years. In Europe, they drink fresh young inexpensive wine out of carafes and tumblers every day. The more time you spend focusing on enjoying what’s in your glass, the less time you’ll spend straining yourself trying to come up with the right thing to say in an uncomfortable situation. Don’t try to be a wine expert, I have enough competition.
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