Biggest Misconceptions on Buying & Drinking Wine

Biggest Misconceptions on Buying & Drinking Wine

#1. Price Equals Quality

Whenever I get asked for recommendations on a “nice red” or a “decent bottle of wine,” I first ask how much they want to spend. Over the years, I have stuck to a relatively low budget with wine. I knew what I liked and did not have any interest in expanding my palette at the time. I recently learned that there is nothing wrong with sticking to a lower budget with wine, because there is beautiful, quality wine at nearly any price point. While this can sometimes be trickier with white wine, it is much easier with red wine.

Different things can affect the price of a wine. Some of these aspects could be the size and number of vineyards used; the country of origin and the multiple levels of taxes these bottles can go through; how prestigious a particular region, sub-region, or vineyard is; and in some cases, how well a brand’s marketing is. Some regions are known for producing great, well-made wine that remains at a relatively low price. Some of these include Spain, Argentina, and South Africa. The reasoning for the lower price points and great quality of wine these countries produce is a conversation for another time, but it is something to keep in mind. Spanish tempranillo’s and garnacha’s, Argentine malbec and cabernet sauvignon, and South African pinotage and cabernet are all wonderfully made varietals to check out that these countries are known for.

A chart describing affordable and great regions to buy wine from with information on common grapes and wine regions in those countries. They include Spain, Argentina, and South Africa

#2. Screw top bottles mean the wine is not good

The near-century-long myth of screw-top wine bottles still rages on today. These tops have been used since the 1950s and have only grown in usage and popularity. They provide a range of benefits, some direct and indirect, such as no corked wine, cheaper costs for wineries, and it aerates wine the same rate a cork does. The biggest plus side of screw tops is the money it saves. Real, genuine cork is expensive, and when a winery is producing thousands to tens of thousands of cases of wine, the cork expenditure adds up quickly. Using screw tops does not affect the quality of wine or how quickly it oxidizes, at least any differently from cork.

I would hope that with these wineries saving money by not using cork, that money is being reinvested into the growth and production of the grapes and wine to provide an even better product. This is not to say that every wine with a screw top is going to be good, just as every wine with a cork will not be good. If I can have my South African pinotage or Spanish garnacha for a few dollars less with a screw top, I would be happy to take it, especially since many wineries do not even use real corks.

#3. White wine is meant to drink cold and red wine at room temperature.

“Americans drink their white wine too cold and red wine too warm.”

Adam Sumrall, founder and curator of Deviant Behavior Radio

In general, you get the most out of white wines at a colder, chilled temperature. For lighter-bodied whites, 45-50°F (7-10°C) and more full-bodied wines are best at 50-55°F (10-13°C). White wine is not meant to be drank at extremely cold temperatures though.

Red wines are usually best served between 62-68°F (15-20°C). Oftentimes, people read that red wine is best at room temperature. While this is true to some degree, you should also take into account the history and context of that statement. In the wine world, “room temperature” would likely refer to places in Europe where room temperature is kept lower or when people have naturally insolated or temperature-controlled wine cellars.  This overly generalized statement usually does not consider the average household room temperature. For example, it would be extremely uneconomical to constantly keep your house at 65°F in the Mississippi summer.

An infographic showing the best temperatures for white and red wine to be served at.

#4. Wine is objective and an exact science

This one is relatively simple. There are solid, studied ways to view, handle, and drink wine that will likely give the typical wine drinker the best possible experience, but these are not definite. There are still debates on which wines to decant and how long, the perfect temperatures, and so on. One person says and thinks one thing, and another says a different thing because different people will prefer different things.

Just as different individuals enjoy different wines and their characteristics, different people will also perceive, sense, and taste wine differently. While one person may get heavy cherry and raspberry notes from a particular bottle, another could taste minerals and dirt. And yes, minerals and dirt are wine characteristics that many, including myself, love. Essentially, this is to say that you should not take any one person’s opinions, reviews, or assessments of wine too seriously, even mine. Well, especially mine.

#5. Sparkling wine is only for the good times

Sparkling wine was once for the good times but Champagne’s for the pain

– Midland

While I am not huge on sparkling wine, I still enjoy it when it is there. There is a very common assumption that champagne, cava, prosecco, and all of the others are only meant to be drank on special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries. If you want to drink Freixenet or Vueve on a random Tuesday night, go for it.

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