I love wine. I love the flavours, the aromas, and the story it portrays, and I think you love some part of it too, otherwise you wouldn’t be here… Now, I like to think I know a lot about wine, but there’s still new and exciting things I learn every day! So, I’ve decided to write a couple of wine facts for you to keep your dinner party conversation flowing or to give you those extra points at the pub quiz. Some of these you may already know, others may completely throw you, as they did me!
The cheaper the bottle, the less tasty it'll be.
Big false. My favourite pastime is wandering the wine aisle in the supermarket looking for a bargain wine that really delivers. Obviously, this can be very hit and miss, but you don’t always need to grab a £20+ bottle to be sure that it will meet your expectations! Educate yourselves! Learn what you like in a wine and really take the time to read what your supermarket says about the bottle. These cheap hidden gems are often the most rewarding wines! In fact I wrote an article about this very thing here with a sprinkling of recommendations.
Screw-capped wines are not as good as wines with a cork closure.
False. Screw-caps are one of the best inventions gifted to the winemaking industry. The metal caps don’t allow the wine to become “corked” or “oxidised” as they stop the micro amounts of oxygen from entering the bottle, unlike their cork counterparts! They are also a personal blessing to my dinner parties. There is nothing worse than trying to look all fancy and open a cork-closed wine and have it crumble into the bottle. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but this happens. Every time.
White wine is enjoyed with fish and red wine with meat.
While this is technically true, you do not always have to stick to this rule! Fish like tuna steak or swordfish are a very meaty fish, so can be supported by a lighter red. Similarly, if you are eating a creamy meat dish, or a meaty Asian-spiced meal, this can go very nicely with an oaked chardonnay. But at the end of the day, its your choice, if you want to drink a full-bodied Malbec with grilled salmon, go for it!
Aged wines taste better.
False. In my early twenties I thought I would start a wine collection. I had bought a bottle of the latest vintage of an Entre-Deux-Mers (it was a Bordeaux, so I thought I was being posh) and a young New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Not going to go into too much detail, but 8 years later I learnt that some wines are just not made for aging. While a lot of wines age with grace and decorum and are in fact better left to develop, other wines are absolutely fantastic enjoyed soon after bottling! Again, this is down to personal preference.
All wines are vegan.
False. Some wines aren’t even vegetarian! And as a vegetarian this one shocked me, so… oops! The reason that all wines are not vegan or even vegetarian-friendly has to do with how the wine is clarified and a process called ‘fining’. All young wines are hazy and contain tiny molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics. Usually the wines, after some time will self-stabilise and self-fine, but some producers choose to speed the process along by using agents, such as casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatine (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein), and this is what is what makes a wine vegan/vegetarian unfriendly! You can check out our vegan wine case here.
There’s a difference between organic wine and wine made with organic grapes.
True! There are two common labels for organic wines: ‘organic’ and ‘made with organically grown grapes.’ So, what’s the difference? A wine that is labelled ‘organically-grown’ means that no pesticides or synthetics were used in the vineyard. However, additives can be used during winemaking, including sulphites. For a wine to be ‘certified organic,’ it must be made solely with organic grapes and it cannot have any added sulphites or non-organic elements added during the winemaking process. Sulphites occur naturally in grapes during fermentation, so no wine is completely sulphite-free, but those without added sulphites will often have sulphite levels so low they are undetectable.
British wine is just another name for English wine.
False. British wine is made from imported grape juice concentrate, with the winemaking aspect completed in the UK. English wine is made from grapes grown in England. And Welsh wine is from Wales-grown grapes.
The French invented sparkling wine.
This one is a complicated answer. While some have credited the monk Dom Perignon in 1697, some believe that the English produced the first sparkling wine. English physician Christopher Merrett penned a report for the Royal Society in London discussing how to make wines sparkle back in December 1662. The English imported still (non-sparkling) wine from the Champagne region and stored it in cellars over the winter. There it underwent a secondary fermentation which produced the fizz! Personally, we prefer the latter!
So, did you learn something? What else would you like to know? Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll start unearthing more truths.
Cheers to you Vine-Os!
Mumma Vino x