Ten wine myths dispelled

  1. You should cook with the same wine that you are going to drink. No way! You think I’m sloshing a cup full of something decent into my Bolognaise sauce?  Something that’s been open a few days on the side of the cooker is just fine. And if you are cooking Coq au Vin, yes you do need a whole bottle of Pinot but make it a cheapish one (that hopefully still resembles Pinot Noir). Believe me when you come to enjoy the dish with a good Pinot, no one is going to say ‘Oh, but the wine in the dish just doesn’t match the wine we’re drinking!’ If they do, don’t invite them back.
  2. Don’t mix red and white wine if you want to avoid a hangover. Hah! Good one! Don’t mix your drinks is good advice, but that refers to the mixing of ‘grain’ (spirits, beers) and  ‘grape’ (wine and some spirits). Red and white wine are both grapes.  If you get a hangover you drank too much.
  3. You should only drink white wine with fish. Cods! (Pun intended) Think of seared tuna with Asian flavours, or firm-fleshed fish fillets (try saying that after a glass or two) with a red wine risotto. Even Paella with a juicy young red or Bouillabaisse with Beaujolais – don’t restrict yourself, play, experiment, have fun. More important to worry about the weight of the wine with fish, rather than the colour.
  4. You should only drink red wine with red meat. (OK, that one’s true, but if someone insists on a white wine, go for an oaky Chardonnay)
  5. Always served white wines chilled. It’s personal – if you like it chilled then fine, but remember the more you chill a wine, the less aroma and flavour is apparent. Serve bubbles chilled though!
  6. Always serve red wine at room temperature. And what’s room temperature anyway? Just means ‘not chilled’. But again, depends on the wine and what you like. Lots of young, vibrant, early-drinking red wines benefit from being ‘door step cold’, maybe chilled for 15 or so minutes.
  7. Always store bottles lying down. Not if you are up with the play and buying screwcap-sealed wines. If you have bottles sealed with a cork then yes, store them lying down so they are covered by the wine and can’t therefore dry out, encouraging oxidation. As for Champagne and sparkling wines, the jury is still out on the best way to store them as it is thought the pressure in the bottle should keep the cork fully expanded. But…if you have always stored yours lying down, DON’T stand them up now, the corks will not re-expand quickly enough to save the wine from oxidation.
  8. All wines improve with age. No. Not true. Good, well made wines often have the ability to age. For white wines, great Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Semillon can be truly amazing after five, ten, even 20 plus years. Chardonnay doesn’t have such an ability though some Burgundian ones can last quite well and certainly better than the majority from the New World. Pinot Gris and Gewurz – as a rule of thumb – nope. And Sauvignon Blanc – if Marlborough I’ll make the huge generalisation that no – these do not cellar (I can hear Dr John Forrest berating me – and rightfully so as his is one of the few that will). They are on the whole, made to drink young while highly aromatic, fruity and fresh. French Sauvignons (mainly from the Loire) have the ability to age far more gracefully. Reds with a good tannin structure – yes. Think Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah and Pinot Noir. But as with all wines you wish to cellar a) You’ll need to spend more than just a few bucks b) Regularly open a bottle to check its development and to check if you like the style it is maturing into and c) Open cellared bottles with like-minded friends who will enjoy them as much as you.
  9. Cheese and red wine are great together. Cheese and wine are often the hardest to match, with blue cheese making red wines taste foul, red wines making soft white cheeses taste foul (or of nothing) and strong-flavoured, hard cheeses often too much for a red to handle. If in doubt, try these: Chardonnays with soft, white-rinded cheeses such as camembert and brie, Sauvignon Blanc with more acidic cheeses such as feta and goat, light, young red wines (Grenache can be good) with medium to full-flavoured hard cheeses and dessert (late harvest or noble) wines with blue cheese.
  10. The more you spend the better the wine. While this should be true, it often isn’t. Some wines are just overpriced. While value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and therefore subjective, quality isn’t. There are wonderfully good wines and horrifically bad wines and a hell of a lot in between. The thing is to find wines that you love and are happy with the price of. My range tends to be $15-$25(NZD) for everyday drinking – that usually gives me some well made, memorable Rieslings, pleasant Chardonnays, good quaffing reds such as Australian Shiraz plus Italians such as Montepulciano or Chianti, Spanish such as Garnacha and Tempranillo and Argentinean Malbec.

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About Belinda Jackson's Blog

I'm a professional wino! I am GM for Blind River, a small vineyard planted with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in Marlborough's beautiful Awatere Valley. You can see more at www.blindriver.co.nz. I am a director of Wine Competition Ltd which owns and runs two independent wine competitions in New Zealand: the Spiegelau International Wine Competition (www.spiegelauiwc.co.nz) and the Marlborough Wine Show (www.marlboroughwineshow.co.nz) When not 'wining' I am championing local causes such as Renwick Smart & Connected and the Mistletoe Bay Foundation. I have been on the board of New Zealand Riding for the Disabled for over six years. I have three books published and I have a regular wine slot on Radio New Zealand. I started in the wine industry in Bordeaux in the mid-eighties before heading back to the UK to work with a wine wholesaler. Ten years later I was responsible for sourcing and buying 750,000 cases of wine from around the world for one of the country's big brewers. I have been in NZ since 1995 and absolutely love it (the only other place I'd want to live is France...)
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4 Responses to Ten wine myths dispelled

  1. Steve Webb says:

    I’m all for busting myths – one white wine that can be fantastic with red meat is Sauternes! Try it with fatty meats such as roast game or even a well hung steak, spicy sausages and meat dishes or meaty meals with fruit based sauces. Great with fish too by the way!

  2. Bruno Santos says:

    When you said “Regularly open a bottle to check its development and to check if you like the style it is maturing into” you meant that I can open one single bottle to taste it, and if I think it can still age longer, I can just put the cork back? What if it is a screw cap bottle?

    • Hi there, thanks for reading my blog and sending me your question. I meant for you to open a bottle to enjoy, and to see how the wine is developing. If you really love it, you know that you will enjoy the other bottles at around this time – say over the next three to six months. Though putting the closure back on is far easier and more effective with screwcap than cork, but I didn’t mean to suggest you did that with this particular bottle. Hopefully you’ll love the wine and will want to finish it!

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