Five common myths in terms of tasting wine

by Feb 25, 2021News0 comments

myths of wine collage.jpg

Dear reader,

We are never tired of saying how wine is a constant learning. Every time we get a new article done, we look back and think wow, there’s so much still to explore.

For this latest piece, we’ve decided to try to debunk some myths that still to this day are quite popular with wine drinkers. Decanting true from false is a good way to build even more wisdom, right?

Let’s take a look into some myths that are still imagined as real by many in terms of wine tasting. Are all wines age-worthy? Do screw caps mean bad wines? Is decanting really essential? Are Champagne flutes the best choice?


Every wine is meant to be aged or improves with time

This common sense has been changing for a while, but many still have no idea that actually very few wines that are stored for years improve in terms of quality, becoming more complex and developing new nuances. In estimates, around only 5%. These include the fine and rare wines we offer at Alti Wine Exchange.

Yes, every single wine that is bottled is already good to drink.


What makes a wine good to be cellared and improve in the bottle?, you ask. It’s not an exact science, but a few common traits will help you identify the age-worthiness and cellar potential, aspects that are crucial about fine wines. They include quality traits; chemical aspects (acidity, phenols, sugar); and being under good storing conditions.

Most age-worthy wines, as many are aware, are red. But others, such as Champagne, Sauternes, Riesling, fortified and dessert wines and even some dry whites, are good to be cellared and actually improve with time. When in doubt, check the label, talk to your trusted shop/sommelier or check our contents!

Now: even if you don’t plan on letting a few bottles rest to improve, you can cellar them to maintain their finest traits for some good years – storing them under cool, specific conditions.

Screw caps mean lower quality wines

For far too long, the cork-sealing tradition made people thinking screw capped wines were cheaper, inferior.

This bad reputation was partially true, but modern screw tops are actually quite safer against oxidation than corks – which is even better for wines that you intend to keep for little time to drink.

Cork carries tradition, so it is still the standard to see both the finest and the most popular wines resort to it. But by no means screw caps imply lower quality.

Of course, this also applies if you are planning to have a screw capped age-worthy wine to cellar.


All wines improve when decanted

wine decanter photo by Geoff Parsons.jpg

Ooh, it’s a charm. And yes, decanting is particularly great for young, tannic wines – but its use is something far from universal.

Decanting provides a bigger surface of contact with oxygen, facilitating the “breathing” process that releases crucial aromas for a wine. It also separates unwanted deposits, such as unfiltered crystals and sediments, which bolder reds usually carry in larger amounts.

On the other hand, larger periods of aeration, as in decanting, can make older, complex or more delicate age-worthy wines fade quickly, muting some of its more subtle fruity aromas. This is also that you should think of when looking at lighter red wines, such as Pinot Noir.

Maybe it isn’t the case to decant that lovely Burgundy, just swirl it good. Also: in the case of white wines, which are mostly tannin-free, it is even less necessary. It could even be that the excessive aeration and volatility could numb the fruity aromas in there and misbalance their acidity.


Red wine with meat, white wine with fish

If you know wine well by know, you won’t be surprised to see the multiple nuances in the many different kinds of red and white wines. Same goes for pairings: not everything is about a red complementing fatty meats or a white bringing acidity to a poultry or fish dish.

Who says a nice trout won’t go with a low-tannin red like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais? And what if the main characteristic of your meat dish is a creamy sauce? The kind of meat could even become secondary.

5c1c2712edacb image crop.jpg

As we’ve showed a while back, red wines often offer more congruent pairings, smoothly amplifying their side foods’ best. Meanwhile, whites, sparklers and rosés have characteristics that tend to be more contrasting with what they’re served with, creating a delicious balance.

The big trick is always to identify the dominant flavours and start thinking of what might be more determinant in matching them. And try to keep track of weight and intensity of the flavours at stake (or steak — got it? Sorry, that was terrible.)

And I mean, there are so many interesting and unexpected pairings out there, like Champagne with jamón ibérico…


Champagne is meant to be enjoyed in flute glasses

champagne julien sweetness 4.jpg

Champagne and other sparkling wines are so commonly associated with flute. Oh, the elegant and fancy feeling…

We’re afraid to say you’re not giving your bubbly a top treatment. The flute has a big charm trick with the bubbles coming up, but its narrow rim makes it more difficult to express the complex flavours and aromas.

Truth is, a really fine Champagne develops its spectrum of aromas even better with wider glasses, despite losing a bit of the visual trick with the bubbles. White wine tulips and the classic coupe glasses are great for this.

For more on glassware, check out our article from a while back!


Now that you’re good to go with true from false, why not go for fine wines for investment or for the pleasure of your palate?

  Until next one!



Explore More from Our Blog

Would you bring your child to a winery?

DEAR READER, What a pleasure to be back! I admit it: these mailbags are now my favorite point of the week. Even during the contentious back-and-forth, I always enjoy opening my inbox to see words from you all. “Kind” ones, sometimes—but as you know from last week—I...

Our Sommeliers suggested wine

DEAR READER, I must be honest—I expected many more well wishes after posting that old journal entry. Everyone is modest when they say they don’t want well wishes, and so I expected there would be a few of you who saw through my “plea for privacy”. But, I forgive and I...

Because Life Needs Good and Evil

Black and white. Chaos and order. Sinner. Sinless. Life is a constant search for the happy medium, the yin and the yang. It’s as renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson explains, “Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging, because...

Thank you, Lehman Brothers?

On this day, 13 years ago, the world broke out in a panic when Lehman Brothers filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy. Still the largest bankruptcy filing in US history, it was the climax of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Subprime mortgages were to blame, lending money to...

Beer vs Wine, a timeless debate…

DEAR READER, Blah blah blah let’s get right to it! Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, You’ve dropped some hints that you look down on beer. Why is this, Sommelier Ferdinand? You have a growing fanbase—surely, you’re aware the effect that your insults have? And before you...

What would you do if you found an expensive wine in a cellar?

DEAR READER, Never in my life have I been happier to pontificate about wine than at my computer desk. In person is stimulating, sure, but they always talk back at some point. My lovely readers, however, only speak when I like! This internet thing has utility!...

The Beginning and The End.

Alas, the sun has crossed the celestial equator from north to south. Summer is now quite uneasy, shifting into fall in the north, while life is springing into action down south. What a beautiful time of the year! When grapes are cut from the vine to create new wine,...

Ever heard of a wine cocktail?

DEAR READER, I hope some of you learned from the reader letter last week [hyperlink to Week Ten post] and checked your attics! You never know how much wine sits above you, waiting to be uncorked and decanted—on someone else’s dime! Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, I have a...

The Future of Wine

We humans are bold if nothing else. Unlike any other species (that we know of), only we have chosen time and again to go boldly where no other has gone before. This holds especially true to the modern European, the first to really “discover” ignorance. Though they...

Could Mozart Make Your Wine More Complex?

We usually do three things when drinking wine: look at it, smell it and taste it. We activate three of our five senses to understand what’s going on in the glass. I propose we go further by incorporating sound and touch. Surely what we’re listening to while...

What on earth is a ‘Wine Decanter’?

DEAR READER, It’s come to my attention that many of you are ill-informed, misinformed, and frankly, uninformed about how wine is to be consumed. Were I only a wine enthusiast, it would be wholly dispiriting. But—wine is my profession, and I’m obligated to recognize...

“What’s My Next Question?” – Benjamin Kaplan

What’s My Next Question? On a random day like today 11 years ago, a legendary Harvard Law professor and lawyer, Benjamin Kaplan, died at 99 years of age. A rich, marked life that left an impact long after his last breathe. Apart from influencing the likes of Ruth...