Myth or Reality? The top four misconceptions about wine.

Whenever you have something that is so widely enjoyed and in so many different was as wine is, you will have an abundance of myths and ideas about it. This week I wanted to highlight a few of the myths about wine that I run into most frequently.

Myth #1: A great place to store your wine is in the kitchen fridge?

Wine should only be “cooled” in the fridge for a short period of time.  Some of us living in very warm/hot regions might feel the need to use the fridge as a storage vessel.  I am against it, unless you have a designated wine fridge.  Unfortunately, a “real” fridge might be too cold for your wines – so not a good idea.  The other issue, the vibration from the fridge might be an issue for the longevity of the wine.   On top of this, when you have cheese, leftover Chinese, or other “smelly” items in the fridge, the wine can easily take on the flavors of those -  not pleasant!

If you don’t have a “real” wine cellar may I suggest to store it in a dark closet, nice and cool – or in the basement (away from any heating devices there).  The biggest enemies of wine are heat, light and vibration.

Myth #2: Decanting is only for old, expensive wines?

This is a question that comes up almost every day.   Decanting has its purpose both for young and old wines.  When decanting an old bottle of wine, it is used to separate sediment that might have built up over the years.  My suggestion for old(er) wine is decanting it very slowly, gingerly and still use a strainer to pick up any sediment.  Do not decant too long in advance before serving if the wine is very old – you might have vinegar by that time.

When you have a young (red) wine like Cabernet or Syrah, I have two suggestions that I have learned over the years:

  1. I open up the bottle in the morning (when I brew my pot of coffee), and decant the wine into a decanter.  I let the wine sit (in my wine room at 55 degrees) till I get home and pour it back into the bottle.
  2. This one may shock and surprise you, but If I forgot to set the wine out ahead of time, or we have last minute (extra) dinner guest, I will grab my blender and throw in a YOUNG red or tannic wine (no need to do this with Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zin or Grenache) and blend it for 15-30 seconds. Occasionally I will only blend ½ of the bottle and have my guest taste the wine from both the bottle and blender.  The result is amazing – the wine from the blender is always silkier in character.  It is like using a meat tenderizer of sorts.  By using this aggressive decanting method, you introduce more oxygen into the wine and it softens the tannins very fast – it mimics long-term aging!  Of course, this is not something you want to do with a 1982 Chateau Margaux or 1987 Dunn Howell Mountain.  With wines like that, you should only use the traditional decanting method!

Myth #3: Whites should be served from the fridge and reds at room temperature.

When you want to drink wine, white or red alike, the most important factor is the temperature.  The right glassware is second – although some might argue this.  The Temperature will influence the aroma and taste of the wine greatly.

Some people might have multi-climate zones in their wine cellar and that comes in handy when storing whites and reds at different temperatures.  I know that many people put whites in the fridge for some time or even in ice buckets.  When you serve wine right from the fridge at 40° F it is way too cold and you cannot smell or taste anything. It is just like the flowers in your yard.  When it is too cold outside, you cannot smell them but when the temperature rises a little you get those beautiful aromas. That is the same with wine!

For whites, I like to recommend storing at 50-55 degrees. If you opt for the fridge or ice bucket, I want to suggest to remove the wine a good 20-30 minutes before serving it.

As for Reds – when you store them at room temperature, usually 70-72° F you’ll encounter high alcohol-like aromas and flavors. I like to suggest serving them at 60°-62° F.  Here you might do just the opposite. If the wine is too warm, do put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to bring it down to the 60-62° F.

Again, a double climate zone cellar does this trick for you.

Myth #4: Red wine with meat, white wine with poultry or fish.

I’d say that this is an old myth.  You want to drink what you like!  Of course, the right wine with the right food could do wonders as well.  And a great food-wine pairing can do wonders!

Fish and Chicken (or other white meats) don’t always need white wine – they can easily go with a good red like Pinot Noir or Grenache. A pork chop can often be served with a Syrah or Cab Franc.  I personally drink 49 out 50 reds versus white anyway!  When eating Thai or Vietnamese I like to drink a bottle of Champagne or Sparkling wine (not beer, sorry).

What are some myths you have run into? Do you have any amusing stories about wine myths or mishaps? Visit my blog at http://FrankMelisWine.com or our facebook page http://facebook.com/GoldenGateWineCellar and tell me about them!