It seems just about everyone I meet has a variety of opinions about wine. I never know what to believe. Should I stick to Paul Giamatti's advice and not drink Merlot? When I tilt my wine glass and it appears to cling to the side like Spider-Man is that because of the tannins? Are blended wines just a mix of what's left over?
There are a lot of myths and urban legends floating around. I talked to Mariana Onofri, the Sommelier and Wine Director for The Vines of Mendoza, to learn what is true and what is an urban legend. Here are some of the most common myths I have heard -- and the real facts.
Myth #1: I Don't Want Any F#@!ing Merlot
Truth: Some lines from certain movies really stick. The Merlot myth stuck so much that it caused sales to plummet. This is not the first time movies had this unintended impact. Check out the 75 percent of the shark population that was killed after Jaws. While we can't defend the honor of sharks, the truth is that Merlots are quality wines. Petrus is one of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. The composition is mainly Merlot and comes from Pomerol, France. Sometimes people drink blends such as a Bordeaux and don't even realize it is largely comprised of Merlot. Of course, as with any wine, you should be sure it is a quality wine before purchasing a bottle, but you shouldn't misjudge the entire varietal.
Myth #2: ABC-Anything But Chardonnay
Truth: This catchy statement came about, because people have a belief that Chardonnays are typically oak tasting and not crispy or fresh. Don't give up on Chardonnay. Depending on the style of winemaking you can find Chardonnays that don't have any oak and offer a refreshing flavor. If you enjoy a crisp white wine, you can certainly find a Chardonnay to suit your tastes.
Myth #3: The Legs of the Wine Mean _________________________
Truth: It's so common to see someone get a glass of wine tilt it, look at what's left on the glass and come up with some theory. It's the tannins. It's the alcohol. It's the quality of the wine. It's a secret plan to help digestion.
The reality is seeing the legs can be affected by the thickness of the glass, the type of glass and how it was washed. They are not a sign of quality. In some cases, glycerol, a type of alcohol found in wine, can be a part of identifying the legs. However, this is not always the case.
Myth #4: Blended Wines Are Not As Good As Non-Blended Wines
Truth: When given the choice between a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah etc. or a blend, a lot of people will choose the single grape wines. Blends can often be the best mix of all of your favorites or what I like to call the ice cream sundae of wines. I love cookies and cream ice cream, but mix that with some brownie and coconut ice cream and it's amazing. When winemakers take a Malbec and mix it with a Cabernet Sauvignon or any other grape it can be so much better than one of them on their own. Blends are definitely worth exploring.
Myth #5: Don't Drink Wines With High Alcohol
Truth: A wine with high alcohol content doesn't mean it will be like taking a shot of vodka. There is a belief that a higher alcohol percentage will cause the wine to burn the throat or nose, but that isn't necessarily true. Argentine wines are high in alcohol, because the grapes are grown in a warm, dry climate. It is not uncommon for a wine to be as much as 16 percent alcohol. However, when winemakers deal with high alcohol, they make the other elements of wine (acidity, tannins and fruit flavor) high as well to give the wines a balance and hide the alcohol. Don't be afraid of high alcohol contents, but rather pay attention to the balance of the wine.