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Put A Cork In It: Six Wine Myths Debunked

Posted on May 02, 2008

By Michael Green

In the last few years, America has embraced wine with a passion, though some persistent wine myths still prohibit many event planners from making educated, informed wine selections. With the right wine facts though, you can impress clients and guests, branding yourself through unexpectedly delicious wines. Here are six wine myths that need debunking:

1. There’s a direct correlation between price and taste: No. Price is solely a function of supply and demand. There are tasty and memorable wines available at all price points; many can be found for less than $30 on restaurant or hotel wine lists.
• When planning your next event, give the beverage director or sommelier a clear price point and ask them for their favorite selections. You’d be surprised how often they name some of the most affordable on the list!
• With advance notice, often wine can be special ordered if there’s nothing on the menu that suits your needs.
Why should you care? Offering unique and delicious wines at lower price points reduces overall cost without sacrificing quality.

2. Drier is better: Nope. Maybe because we’ve been brought up on sweet soft drinks, people think sweeter wines are unsophisticated and bad quality. Not true. Many slightly sweet wines (a.k.a. containing “residual sugar”) are some of the best in the world.
• The best of the slightly sweeter wines available are a complex marriage of acidity and sweetness, the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of food.
• Spicy and sweet dishes, from fiery Indian curry to roast pork with apples, match sweeter wines like German or Austrian Rieslings perfectly.
Why should you care? Perfect wine pairings elevate the food, wine and experience. If a sweet wine works best, don’t be afraid to serve it.

3. Rosés are always bad: Not true. One of the hardest wine myths to dispel, but thankfully the long-standing belief that there aren’t any world-class rosés is fading fast.
• Sparkling rosés, with bright color and playful bubbles, are the perfect beverage to kick off an evening of celebration.
• Most rosés are dry! Unlike America’s favorite wine, White Zinfandel, most rosés are not in the least bit cloying. In fact, rosés can be just as elegant and refined as any other style of wine, and in the warm weather nothing’s better than a nice glass of these blushing beauties.
Why should you care? Rosés boost people’s spirits! It’s hard not to enjoy something this colorful and fun.

4. Screw caps are for cheap wine: Au contraire. Screw caps are often found on young wines, less expensive than older bottles but not at all low-quality.
• Today many stellar wines are coming out of newer wine producing countries like New Zealand, who love this “twisted pleasure” as much as I do.
• I would much prefer a screw cap wine to a “corked” bottle, where a rotten cork has transformed a great wine into one that tastes like cardboard.
Why should you care? Great screw cap selections convey casual chic, and you can be sure that every bottle will taste great.

5. Large producers produce inferior wines: That’s crazy talk. In years past, big bulk wine producers sometimes made inferior wines. But today, many prolific producers have begun crafting wines of outstanding quality.
• With modern winemaking technology, it’s becoming more and more difficult to produce low-quality wine, and many large wineries now produce amazing, affordable wines that rival even the smallest producers.
• Your guests may recognize the name of the wine they’re drinking, and the quality will knock their socks off.
Why should you care? Big wineries produce consistent, crowd-pleasing wines that you can bet on people enjoying, and unlike smaller producers they’re easy to find, anywhere, any time of year.

6. A wine with a high rating must be good: Sadly, no. It’s an unfortunate trend that evaluating wines has become reduced to numerical ratings. Reducing it to a point scale sucks all the life and nuance out of this wonderful beverage.
• Imagine if we valuated other things in such a way: your Zinfandel-braised short ribs get 82 points.
• Ratings don’t tell you anything about a wine other than that it’s probably heavy and alcoholic enough to overpower its more subtle (and perhaps more appropriate) peers in a comparative tasting.
• A better way to find great wines is to talk about flavor profiles - consider pre-tasting wines and find the best selections that fit your needs. I say throw out the numbers, and tell me how a wine tastes.
Why should you care? Selecting wine by just looking at point ratings does nothing to distinguish your selections, or your event. If you don’t trust your taste enough to make worthy wine choices, why should anyone else?

Born and raised in New York City, Michael Green has been a fixture in the beverage industry since the age of six when he first began accompanying his father to work at the venerable wine store Acker Merrall & Condit on the Upper West Side. Michael maintained his post at Acker Merrall & Condit throughout high school and college. After graduating, Michael embarked on an aggressive self-education of the world’s appellations while importing wine for the company. His renewed passion for the grape resulted in a series of wine tastings performed at the store and paved the way for his relationship with Gourmet magazine. At the age of 26, Michael began making pairing suggestions for the Gourmet Dining Room and, over the course of a decade, has become the magazine’s exclusive wine and spirits consultant.
Michael’s wine-and-dine wizardry takes many forms, including designing customized corporate wine dinners, directing tasting programs for conferences, festivals and auctions, and building private wine collections. Harnessing the power of wine to build relationships, Michael has the unique ability to articulate a company’s mission through the exploration of wine, making him a favorite talent for Fortune 500 companies nationwide who look to create memorable, brand-building events.


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Jody Brettkelly

Love all your comments! Incredibly insightful, witty and without pretense. Yes some sweet wines are good and even $7.99 found in Pharmacies are good. I do a column for the East Bay Express called Wineau (wines under $10) and a vlog called Kiwi Wineau and you have provide me with so much inspiration. I'm going to do screw caps next!

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