Hints and tips

Wine: What’s true? What’s false?

Know the truth! There are many misconceptions about wine and we've debunked 10 of the key misunderstandings to set the record straight.

By Philip Mc Nee
2017/09/04, 03:06 PM

1. Expensive wine is better wine. 


Similiar to other products, price is typically an indication of quality however you don't have to spend an enormous amount to get a good drop. But don’t go too cheap.! We pay the same amount of tax on every bottle of wine, so paying a little extra can get you a lot more taste. Leave the cheap £5 wine for cooking and aim for the £10 pound mark where you will be paying more for the quality of the grapes and winemaking process. For budget concious drinkers, our sommelier has compiled a list of the best wines he has found under £10.

2. Putting a spoon in champagne maintains its bubbliness.


An old wives tale. How to make sure your champagne stays bubbly, then? Open multiple bottles and finish them in the same evening, that’s pretty much the only thing to do.

3. Wine bottles must be stored lying down.


Wines containing less than 20% alcohol should be stored lying down to keep elasticity and moisture in (when they’re corked). For wines with more than 20% alcohol, it will still taste good standing but that being said, alcohol could eat away at the cork in the long term. Read our sommelier's guide for storing wine

4. Young wines settle while the old wines aerate.


It’s actually rather the opposite! A younger wine with high acidity and harsher tannins can be ventilated by being stored in a Carafe, which will soften the wine. For older wines, decant it instead of ventilating it. The aim for the reds is to separate the sediment from the 'clear" wine.

5. A wine can be refreshing.


Put wine in the fridge for two hours just after you’ve bought it. This is called “to de-fatigue the wine." Like taking a cold shower after a hard day's work, a chilled wine will do the trick.

6. A Burgundy wine appellation is often expensive.


The vineyard size is quite small (compared to Bordeaux), supply is less than demand, and thus this area is not known for its cheapness.

7. A screw cap is a sign of poor quality.


A common misconception. Screw caps been around since the 1960s and definitely don’t always mean poor quality.  In Australia for example, almost every bottle is screw capped. In the 1980s, there was an outbreak of TCA cork taint which drastically damaged thousands of bottles of wine so many manufactures switched to screw caps and never looked back. Some winemakers prefer screw caps because it keeps the bottle sealed and does not allow oxygen to enter it while other winemakers prefer having a cork seal as it allows just enough air to oxidize the tannins. To cork is largely dependent on the winemaker & the taste of the wine he wants to create. 

8. Age wine is better than young wine. 


While we fantasise about drinking 20+ year old wine, the reality is that 90% of wine should be consumed within a year of production while a significant 99% should be drunk within 5 years of production. Wines with concentarted fruits, solid acidity and structured tannin can age well (e.g. many Bordeaux vintages) however these wines are expensive and understandable account for less than 10% of global wine production. 

9. PGI and PDO mean the same thing.


The PGI is the protected geographical indication that is synonymous with the wine’s country of origin. The PDO is the protected designation of origin, a sign of the European Community.

10. A steak is best eaten with red wine.


While a juicy steak is best paired with red wine, a full bodied & fruity white wine such as a chenin blanc can also pair very well. Find a wine that has matches the robust and full flavour of the meat. 

Browse our blog for more tips & tricks to help you become a wine connoisseur or dicover unique wines our sommelier has selected in our Bottle Shop

Not sure what wine to select? Have a sommelier choose for you. Subscribe to Le Petit Ballon and get 2 fantastic bottles of wine delivered to your door every month.