There’s a huge amount of information about wine floating around out there, so it’s understandable that a number of misconceptions have formed on the subject. The following 5 are some of the most common ones we’ve come across.
1. Lighter coloured wines are inferior to darker wines
The colour of a wine is influenced by a number of factors including: grape variety, soil types, climate conditions, length of time it’s been aged and the personal winemaking style of the winemaker. This is why the colour of a wine, even among the same grape variety, can often vary quite significantly.
Some grape varieties also simply produce lighter coloured wines than others. For example, Pinot Noir is a red wine grape that is known to produce lighter coloured wines than say Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. This doesn’t mean it’s inferior in any way; just that the fruit has a different make up.
2. Wines get better with age
There is a common belief that wines get better with age. While this is true in some cases, other times a wine will go downhill rather than improve over time. This is because certain wines are simply not made with aging in mind and are intended to be consumed young. Rosé wines are a good example of this.
In fact, Jancis Robinson, an acclaimed ‘master of wine’ has estimated that probably only 5-10% of wine improves after 1 year and only 1% improves after 5-10 years. Careful aging of a wine can make a good wine great, but cannot make a bad wine good.
3. Sweetness and Fruitiness are the same thing
In the world of wine, “fruity” and “sweet” refer to 2 distinct styles of wine. Sweetness in wine refers to the level of sugar present, and usually only dessert wines, which have much higher levels of sugar than most other wines, would technically fall within the ‘sweet’ category. Wines that taste fruity are often mistaken for sweet, but in fact can be regarded more as dry in winemaking terms.
4. Screw caps are inferior to corks
Perhaps due to their sense of history and tradition, corks have an almost romantic association to them. However in a study of 2800 Californian wines conducted in 2005, it was found that 7% of them were affected by cork taint. Today many natural corks only experience taint rates at or below 0.5%, but if you bottle under screw cap, it is 0 %! Screw caps help to ensure wines stay fresh and bacteria free, even in the long term.
Many winemakers, particularly in ‘new world’ wine countries such as Australia and New Zealand, elect to bottle their wines under screw cap for this exact reason, and Australia leads the world when it comes to the use of screw cap closures for wine. Not to mention they’re a lot more convenient to open!
5. Varietal wines are always better than blends
In Australia, wine labels more commonly identify a wine by its grape variety rather than region, in contrast to many European wines that instead highlight the region. Perhaps due to this, ‘single varietal’ wines (made from only one type of grape exclusively) are often perceived to be better than wines which are a blend of one or more different grapes.
This however could mean missing out on some truly great wines, because blends can offer something exceptionally special and unique, and indeed, some of the world’s most prestigious wines are those made from a blend of more than one grape kind.
A common blend found in Australia is that known as a ‘GSM’, made from 3 different grape varieties, those being; Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro. The advantage of such a blend is that the wine can benefit from all the fine and distinct characteristics of the three different grapes. Basically, through clever winemaking and a good balance of different grapes, the best aspects of each are enhanced and all work to perfectly complement one another. The resultant wines are often those you wouldn’t want to miss out on!