Girl thinking about drinking while counting calories (Credits: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Ever been handed a wine list that physically expands in front of your eyes, until it’s basically the size of the Magna Carta and you somehow have to choose a wine from it?
How about when the wine waiter pours you a thimbleful of wine, stands over you giving side-eye until you’ve not only sipped it but delivered a full PowerPoint presentation on the wine’s quality?
While we’re sharing, who’s woken up with a splitting headache and blamed it on an allergy to ‘sulphites’, not the wine they polished off the night before?
Goes to show, we might like the taste of wine, but talking about it freaks us out.
Not anymore, here are some top myths officially busted.
Join Metro Drinks Club and save on wine
Fancy regular access to delicious drinks at tasty prices? Then welcome to the brand new Metro Drinks Club, brought to you in association with Naked Wines.
To mark this exciting occasion, Metro’s wine expert Rob Buckhaven has selected a series of cases from the Naked Wines range – offered at a very special price to Metro Drinks Club members.
Choose between a red, white and mixed 6-bottle case, or splash out on all three, to gain access to the Metro Drinks Club.
For £34.99 per case, including free delivery, you’ll get a best-in-market deal and save over £45 off the market price.
How to join – and save on your first case
Purchase any Metro Drinks Club case and you’re in the club, though you can opt out at any time.
Read more here.
Follow the link to Metro Drinks Club at Naked Wines to join and purchase your case.
The second cheapest bottle on a list has a higher markup
So, sommeliers are allegedly exploiting naive diners, who are afraid that ordering the cheapest bottle will make them look like cheapskates, so they inflate the second most expensive wine on the list. I can confirm this to be an urban legend.
Recent research found that, if anything, it was the four next expensive bottles on the list that had the higher markups. Selecting a mid-priced wine should therefore be done with caution. Don’t be afraid to choose the cheapest two bottles, they’re often solid value for money.
Are restaurants marking up cheaper wine? (Picture: Getty Images)
Wine legs mean a wine is more alcoholic
Correct. Legs, tears, cathedral windows, call those transparent dribbles that cling to the side of the glass whatever you want. Wider legs that are slower streaming can indicate a higher alcohol content or a wine with more sugar in it.
Legs are an example of something called the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect. When you swirl your glass, you create a thin membrane of wine which then evaporates. The leftover water-alcohol mix collects on the side of the glass, trickling back down into the glass. The more alcohol or sugar, the higher the density of droplets.
Sulphites cause our hangovers
Metro Drinks Club editor Rob is here to debunk the myths (Picture: Natasha Pszenicki)
Most wines contain sulphur dioxide (sulphites), fact. It keeps the wine fresher for longer and helps with a wine’s ageing. It’s not the sulphites that gives you a hangover though, that’s down to the alcohol in the wine. Case in point, natural wines don’t contain additional sulphites, over and above those produced in the fermentation process, and yet they still give me hangovers.
There are also chemicals called histamines though, which red wine has in higher quantities. Some people are histamine intolerant, generally meaning that they are overloaded with them. Sneezing, hives, headaches, nausea and digestive issues are some of the telltale signs, which can be confused with a hangover.
The dimple under the bottle indicates the wine’s quality
Nope. It’s called the ‘punt’ and not all bottles have one. Back in the day, glassblowers used to create punts to push up the seam of the bottle so it could stand upright and to make sure there wasn’t a sharp bit of glass at the bottom of the bottle.
Nowadays, bottles are machine-made to be stronger, so the punt is just part of the aesthetic and have nothing to do with quality. The exception is sparkling wine, which in many cases has a bottle pressure similar to that of a tractor tyre. The punt allows for more even distribution of that pressure.
Older wines are always better
Only 1% of wine is meant to be aged, those include a handful of red, white and sparkling wines. True, it’s generally the finer wines that you’ll want to ‘lay down’, as it smooths out the edges, making them even more delicious. Unless you have exactly the right storage conditions though, they can perish pretty quickly. Even if you do, you have to know the right time to drink them, otherwise they can go past their prime. Most wine is meant to be drunk asap, so crack on.
Wines under screwcap are bad quality
Not true. As some background, screwcaps exist to avoid a wine becoming ‘corked’, which means the cork tree has been infected with a bacteria called TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole). It infects the wine and makes it taste like a wet dog, or worse, takes the fruit away so you think that’s the style of the wine.
Is a screw cap bad? Not so! (Picture: Getty Images)
Screwcaps don’t have that problem, they are also airtight and less prone to flaws. 70% of Australian wine and 90% of New Zealand wines are under screwcap for Pete’s sake. The only downside to screwcap, apart from taking away the cork-pulling ritual, was that no air would get in to help the wine evolve in the bottle.
Nowadays, technology has improved and some screwcaps allow a limited amount of oxygen in, so that shuts down that problem. In conclusion, screwcaps do not equal poor quality wine.
Salt gets rid of wine stains
Salt is the least effective way of soaking up red wine stains, even white wine is better. The theory is that salt acts like a sponge, but if you think about it, you use salt to set colours when you’re dying clothes. It’s more likely to keep the colour in place, permanently, than remove it. People use it as there’s usually salt to hand while you’re dining, but step away from the salt cellar.
Our drinks editor confirms or denies common wine myths to set the record straight.