For an industry that is so steeped in history and tradition, it should come as no surprise that a lot of misconceptions about Italian wine have arisen over the years. For some, wine production almost seems like a mystical process, with producers giving reverence to their production processes and their sense of tradition.
It’s only natural that some misconceptions would arise.
Many of these misconceptions are based on misunderstandings of the winemaking process. Others are the sorts of urban myths that were started long ago and have managed to spread to the public consciousness. In this article, we’re going to look at (and debunk) some of the top misconceptions about Italian wine.
Misconception #1 – Italian Wine is a Living Thing
There’s an obvious source for this misconception and it lies in the use of yeast.
Yeast is an organism that is used in the production of wine. It’s key for creating the sugars that lend the wine much of its flavour, in addition to producing the alcohol content of the wine. So, you could argue that wine is a living thing during the production process.
At least part of it, anyway.
However, that changes long before the wine reaches consumers. The yeast dies during the production process, leaving no traces of itself barring the results of its own death. As grim as that sounds, it also ties into what’s actually happening with your Italian wine.
It is not living.
It is actually dead and in the process of decaying!
This is not a bad thing. This decaying process is what lends the wine many of its flavours, which is why so many wine lovers allow their wines to age before drinking. However, if allowed to continue for too long, this process also leads to the wine losing all of its qualities and becoming somewhat vinegary. Opening the wine and allowing air and other bacteria to get into the bottle speeds up the decaying process. This is why it’s so important to understand the ageing potential of your wine and to be sure that you’re going to be able to drink it in good time once you’ve opened it.
Misconception #2 – Screwcaps Mean the Wine is Low Quality
There are so many wines in the Xtrawine catalogue that debunk this myth that it’s very tempting to just point to them and call it a day on this misconception.
However, we will go a little deeper.
This misconception arises because of the traditional aspect of the Italian wine industry. There are some who claim that the cork contributes to the flavour of the wine. They will also argue that cork is the traditional way to close a bottle, with screw caps being a modern invention that eschews this tradition.
While tradition is to be respected, so too is progress.
Screw caps provide a tight seal for your wine, in addition to being easier to use for resealing. While there are many factors that go into determining the quality of a wine, the presence of a cork or screwcap is not one of them.
Misconception #3 – Red Wines Always Pair With Meats And Whites Always Pair With Fish
This is a misconception that has a lot of basis in truth.
Think of this more as a rule of thumb rather than a straight fact. If you’re unsure about what to pair your wine with, reds generally work well with meats and whites typically combine well with fish. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are plenty of white wines that pair well with meats, just as there are reds that combine well with foods that have softer flavours.
The key to good pairing lies in understanding both the flavour profile of the wine and the qualities of the dish you’re preparing. Something as simple as using a specific type of source can completely change the complexion of a dish, leading to a different wine selection that this misconception suggests.
So, we have a good rule of thumb here. But it’s not something that you should take literally every single time.
Misconception #4 – Expensive is Always Better
Again, it’s tempting to point you towards the pages of the Xtrawine blog to highlight that this is a complete myth. There are many great Italian wines available at very affordable prices.
But again, this is a misconception that has some fact behind it.
Generally, expensive wines cost so much because there’s a lot of demand for them. This demand comes from the wine being of notably high quality. However, that does not mean that less expensive wines are always bad in comparison. There are many reasons why a producer may charge less for their wines. These include the producer not having a strong enough reputation to charge more and the specific costs involved in creating the wine.
The fact is that the only true way to determine a wine’s quality is to taste it for yourself. Some expensive wines won’t be to your taste, just like some inexpensive wines will be right up your alley.
Misconception #5 – You Should Always Sniff the Cork
The thinking here is that sniffing the cork tells you if the cork has rotted while doing its job of sealing the wine. A rotted cork will cause quality issues, leading to a wine that you likely don’t want to drink.
This is true.
However, sniffing your cork is simply not required.
You will be able to tell if a cork has rotted because it will crumble while you try to remove it. The rotting is visible, so you don’t need to put it to your nose and give yourself a whiff of a disgusting aroma to get your proof. You can already see it!
The Final Word
This is just a small smattering of the misconceptions that many people have about Italian wine. There are many more out there, which highlights just how important it is to get your information about wine from a trusted source.
At Xtrawine, we aim to be that trusted source.
We have thousands of international and Italian wines in our catalogue, with each of our listings providing all the information you need to make a choice that’s right for you.
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