In an industry that is so steeped in legend and tradition, it should come as no surprise that a lot of myths have cropped up about wine. Some of these myths are harmless. They may be little stories about wine that aren’t verifiable but add to the overall allure of the industry and encourage people to explore more wines.
Other myths have a more damaging effect. The most absurd Italian wine myths can even put people off from exploring wine completely, which damages the industry and prevents people from discovering some truly marvellous drinks.
That’s why the team at Xtrawine has decided to take a look at some of the weird, wonderful, and downright silly myths that surround the world of Italian wine.
Myth #1 – Varietal Wines Are The Best
A lot of people will espouse the idea that the only good wines are those made using a single grape variety. A Chardonnay or a Merlot will always be better than a wine that uses a blend of different grapes.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The quality of the wine always depends on the work of the producer and how good the grapes they use are. The presence of a single grape variety in a bottle of wine has no direct effect in its quality. It’s just as likely that you will find a bad varietal wine as you will a blended one, or vice versa. Unfortunately, this myth causes a lot of people to miss out on great blended wines.
Myth #2 – Expensive is Better
Anybody who has visited the Xtrawine blog before will know our opinions on this. Yes, expensive wines tend to be of a high quality. They wouldn’t be able to command the prices they do if they weren’t very good.
However, you should not assume one wine is better than another based on price along. Remember that anything from celebrity connections to the region a wine is produced in can play a part in its price. Not every great wine benefits from these factors, so it’s entirely possible to find wonderful wines that are also available for a small fraction of the price you might expect to pay for a “good” wine.
Myth #3 – You Must Serve Red White With Meat
This myth also extends to serving white wine with fish or pasta. Yes, these combinations tend to work well, but there’s a lot more that goes into food and wine pairing than the colour of the wine.
You need to consider all of the complexities of both the wine and the dish itself if you’re going to find a great wine pairing. Just one ingredient can completely change the complexion of the dish, leading to a completely different wine pairing. There’s also no right way to do it. You may enjoy a food and wine pairing that others may not. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, the thinking that certain wines should only go with certain foods creates a certain snobbery that the wine industry should aim to avoid.
Myth #4 – A Screw Cap Means Low Quality
Again, this is a myth that finds its roots in tradition. Winemakers have used cork for centuries because it was cheap to produce. Beyond that, it doesn’t have any mythical qualities that make it better for sealing a bottle of wine. In fact, a bad cork might disintegrate in the bottle and contaminate the product.
Wines with screw caps are capable of being just as good as wines with corked caps. It all comes down to the producer, rather than the cap. Even recent research has shown that wines with screw caps are just as capable of ageing well as wines with corks.
Myth #5 – Big Tannic Wines Need to Age
There is an element of truth to this. A wine that is tannic will lose some of those tannins over time. Plus, decanting can help a tannic wine mellow out to allow it to become more palatable to the drinker.
However, a big tannic wine will run into problems throughout its life due to a lack of balance. You won’t always be able to get rid of tannins of the wine is unbalanced. In fact, there’s an old and accurate saying that an unbalanced young wine will age into an unbalanced old wine.
Myth #6 – You Shouldn’t Put Ice in Wine
Anybody who has enjoyed a nice sparkling wine with a little ice will tell you that this is a myth. While placing ice in red wine will cause some issues, as red wines are at their best when consumed at room temperatures, white wines have a little more room for manoeuvre.
In fact, many choose to put ice in white wines that are particularly high in alcohol content. The ice can temper the alcohol and make the wine more palatable, which is only a good thing. Beyond that, chilling a white wine can help to bring out some of the more subtle flavours that you might have missed before.
Myth #7 – Red is More Sophisticated than White
A good red wine is a good wine. A good white wine is a good wine. Sophistication comes from the producer, rather than the wine itself.
White wines are just as capable of offering subtle nuances as their red counterparts. In fact, the point we made earlier about chilling white wines to bring out those subtleties bears that out. Some wines are more sophisticated than others, at least when it comes to complexity. But whether the wine is red or white doesn’t come into the equation.
Myth #8 – Poor Vintage Indicators Mean Poor Wines
There are years when the climate doesn’t favour wine production. This can certainly have an effect on some wines, but it shouldn’t be a death knell for the entire year.
The fact is that great wines come out of even the poorest vintages. Yes, you may need to put some more work into finding them. But, a poor vintage does not mean you’ll find nothing but bad wine.