Most of us have had discussions with our friends around a glass of wine
Almost all of use have enjoyed friends company around a nice glass of wine.
But inevitably, some people will emphatically tell us how to open a bottle of wine, how to drink or taste the wine, and give us a history lesson regarding wine.
This is the great enjoyment of wine—it’s a conversational beverage. I’m sure we also have wondered if everything we heard is actually true?
Well, below are some interesting myths about wine and why in many cases, they just aren’t true.
Wine Myth No. 1: “One should uncork a wine well ahead of serving it, so it has a chance to breathe.”
Most of us believe this to be true, but does it actually help the wine improve? The answer is no, not exactly. The reason is simple: Wine comes up the neck of the bottle and the actual surface space in touch with air is only slightly larger than a dime. Liquid sitting in a bottle doesn’t move that much, so a full bottle of wine can’t really “breathe” much. If aerating the wine is what you intend, then decant it before serving or use an aeration device. The staff at your wine shop can help you select one.
Wine Myth No. 2: “Legs or tear drops in a wine glass indicate a good wine.”
I have a friend who loves to drink wine that has “long Legs”. He just believes that if those drippy little streaks appear on the wall of his glass when he swirls it, he is in for a real treat. It works for him. He always likes it, whether drinking great wine or swill. I was less impressed, so I looked into it. It turns out that the presence of “legs” or “tear drops” in your glass has nothing to do with taste, or even quality. Instead, the phenomenon, which is scientifically called the Gibbs-Marangoni effect (named after the two scientists who studied it), merely indicates the presence of ethanol. That’s all. It happens because of the different evaporation rates between alcohol and the water portions of the wine. The surface tension “breaks” between the two, and you get drip designs.
What is important to remember is that by itself, pure ethanol isn’t exactly tasty. Ethanol is what you get when yeasts convert some of the sugar in fruit or grains to alcohol. In wine, the grape juices and residual sugars make up most of the flavor, along with flavors imparted by the winemaking process, such as barrel aging. If the winemakers are doing their job correctly, they manage to balance the wine elements into something delicious.
But if they fail, the ethanol can make the wine taste bitter, mineral and metallic. Bottom line: Legs in wine can be pretty,
but they are not an indication of great wine.
Wine Myths No. 3 and 4: “When a recipe calls for wine, use a cheap one. And don’t worry, all the alcohol cooks away.”
Commonly enjoyed on its own, wine serves well as a cooking ingredient, too. But think twice before you use cheap wine, or wines marketed specifically as cooking wine, because the latter can often contain additional ingredients like salt and sugar, which will alter your intended recipe.
As for the former, I would agree that opening a very expensive wine to use 1/4 cup of it is probably frivolous—although I have on occasion done this. On the other hand, using cheap wine you wouldn’t otherwise drink is also undesirable. As a cook, you strive to put the best ingredients you can into your culinary creations. Why change the rules with wine? Select the right wine to give you the flavor profile you seek. As for all the alcohol burning off, research indicates that as much as 40 percent of the alcohol can remain after 15 minutes of cooking, and drops only 5 percent for every 15 minutes thereafter.
Myth: Busted and busted
There is usually a scientific explanation for why certain events occur, but the bottom line is the enjoyment a person receives from not only the wine, but also from those who are enjoying the wine with us.
- Be sure to stop by your local wine store to examine any new wines and do not be afraid to ask questions.
- The WineStyles in Bolingbrook is having a complimentary Spectacular Sauvignons wine tasting on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. Here, you’ll taste some spectacular Sauvignons – Cabernet and Blancs – side by side.
- On Saturday from 2-4 p.m., WineStyles in Bolingbrook will have a Trio of Sweet Wines Tasting. The wines include a Sparkling Caldirola Moscato (If you loved the Christmas Moscato–this is the one for you!), a white and a red.