5 Misconceptions about Wine
By blanchardwines / February 15, 2023
The world of wine is so filled with traditions, rituals and myths it can be intimidating. You don’t need to memorize a wine encyclopedia just to enjoy a glass. But dispelling some common misconceptions about wine can make the tasting experience easier and more enjoyable.
- Wine Needs to be Aged
Everyone has heard the phrase, “Age like fine wine.” This creates the assumption that all wine gets better with age, which is simply not true. There is a very small percentage of wine that has a long-life span in the bottle. Most everyday wines will go bad after a year or so. Beyond that, wine simply doesn’t get better with age. It gets different with age. The chemical composition, aromas and flavors with evolve and change over time, as if wine is a living being. The tannin will reduce, bright fruity flavors will mellow, earthy tones may appear, and the wine will get softer and more elegant. So, the wine only gets “better” if you personally like it more with that change in age. This might be the case, or it might not.
- Pink Wine is Sweet
Pink wine is white wine made from red grapes. Traditionally red grapes are fermented with skin contact to create the dark color. White grapes are often fermented without skin contact, thus the lighter color. Snobby wine drinkers will often cringe at pink wines, because they claim not to like sweet wine. While many pink wines, as in Rose or Blush style, are indeed sweet, that is far from a definition. Any style of wine can be sweet, or any style of wine can be dry. Sweet wines have residual sugar, because not all the natural sugar from the grape was converted into alcohol during fermentation. A wine is considered dry if all the sugar was converted to alcohol. Traditionally, many pink wines are dry without residual sugar.
- Sulfites in Wine is Bad
Sulfites are a natural preservative that releases SO2 gas which slows oxidation and preserves foods and beverages. I’ve heard it countless times over the years that a guest is allergic to the sulfites in wines. While a sulfite allergy is a real medical condition, it is estimated that only about 1% of the population has a “sulfite sensitivity” and actual allergies are even rarer. Sulfites are a natural preservative used in countless foods and beverages, such as juice, soda, beer, seafood, meats, dried fruits and vegetables. The ancient Romans were using sulfites to preserve foods and beverages, so it’s nothing new, and generally not bad.
- Wineries and Vineyards are the Same Thing
There is a romantic vision of the winery chateau overlooking the rolling vineyards that birth the fine wine. The idea of a single, self-sufficient property that grows grapes and makes wine is less common than you think. A vineyard is a farm, a winery is a production facility. They don’t need to be intertwined or under the same ownership. Many wineries big or small, purchase grapes from vineyards that they don’t own. Often vineyard sources are spread through different geographic areas. Some wineries don’t own any vineyard properties at all. This doesn’t mean that winery isn’t make fine wine from incredible grapes. Keep in mind, breweries almost never own their own hops and barley fields, distilleries almost never own their own wheat or grain farms, and it would be rare to find a steakhouse that owned their own ranch.
- Winemakers Stomp Grapes with Their Feet
I blame “I Love Lucy” for this misconception. Oddly, one of the most common curiosities with novice wine enthusiasts, is whether we stomp grapes with our feet. Historically speaking there were winemakers that would use their feet to press the juice from their grapes many years ago. But it was never very common and was more of a ceremonial concept, although it should be noted when it is done it is sanitary. Humans have had the technology and machinery to efficiently extract juice from grapes for centuries. These days it’s almost never done in modern winemaking. Thankfully.
Blanchard Family Wines proudly makes a variety of wines, some of which have the potential to age in the bottle for over ten years and still be good. We make red wine, white wine and certainly pink wine. Our Rose is dry, not sweet. And we add very small but effective doses of sulfites to all our wines, as do most fine wineries. Lastly, we have never used our own feet to press grapes and have no plans to do so in the future.