Wine talk: Ten myths
By ADAM MONTEFIORE
There are many misconceptions about serving and drinking wine. Here we dispel the top 10.
1. Taste a wine in a restaurant to see if you like it.
When you order
wine in a restaurant, the wine waiter will offer you the opportunity to taste
before pouring it. This is only to check if it is the wine you ordered and that
it is in good condition. It is not an opportunity to send it back because
you don’t like it!
2. Smell the cork to judge a wine’s quality.
will often give you the cork to smell or may even smell it himself. I have never
known a cork to smell nice, so a bad-smelling cork does not indicate a bad
3. A corky wine has bits of cork in it.
A corky wine has a
musty smell that overwhelms any fruit. It is not a wine with bits of cork
floating in it. The reason is that the cork has been contaminated. A wine such
as this may be referred to as being “corked.”
4. Drink white wine with
fish, red wine with meat.
Certainly red wine goes with fish and white
wine goes with meat. The art is to either match the intensity and body of the
wine to the dish or to contrast it. And clashes need to be avoided.
However, this is an out-of-date guide. Today, people match wine to mood, not to
food. Drink what you like and with whatever food. It is quite simple: Good wine
goes with good food, and what you prefer is always the best choice.
Israeli wine is expensive.
I disagree that Israeli wines are
expensive. Yes, most of the trophy wines or the wines that win awards may
be relatively expensive, but no more than similar wines in other countries.
Furthermore, most wine journalists seem to write about the more expensive wines.
However, more than 95 percent of sales are of wines with a shelf price of less
than NIS 40, offering real value for money. Just go into any
6. Kosher wine can’t be good.
This is totally
incorrect. Some of the best wineries in Israel produce worldclass wines that
happen to be kosher. A well-made wine may be good and a poorly made wine may be
bad, but whether it is kosher or not is insignificant to its quality.
Quality wines are stoppered only with natural cork.
is still the best closure for wine. However, do not be put off by the use of
synthetic corks or even screwtop closures, which are becoming more and more
popular. Both are fine, even for quality wines.
8. Wine must be stored in
a wine fridge.
Ideally, wine should be stored at a perfect 12 to 13 degrees
Celsius in a beautiful wine fridge. This will give respect to the wine you want to store and
give it the best chance to be at its peak when you decide to drink it. It is
true that July and August are hot enough in Israel to ruin any wine, regardless
of its quality or price.
However, wine is hardier than you think. If kept
sensibly, it may last surprisingly well. Just try to follow a few basic rules.
The wine should be kept horizontal or upside-down in its original carton. It
should be kept away from vibration, any form of heat and direct
9. Serve white wine cold and red wine at room
The biggest problem with wine service is that white wines
are served too cold and red wines too warm. If it is too cold, a quality white
wine will lose its delicate fruit aroma. Certainly an inexpensive white wine,
sparkling wine or sweet dessert wine should be served very cold. However, a
Chardonnay, Viognier, Johannisberg Riesling or Gewurztraminer would benefit by
being cold, but not ice cold.
As far as red wines are concerned, I
believe that even a quality red wine should be served after 20 minutes in a
domestic fridge. This will bring it to about 16 degrees Celsius, and it will
warm up in the glass. In Israel’s hot climate, our high-alcohol wines will soon
lose shape if served at room temperature.
10. Once a bottle has been
opened, the wine does not last.
If you are having dinner at home and you
just want a glass or two, don’t leave the bottle open at the table. After you
pour what you want, immediately put the cork back in. (If it does not go in
easily, try it the other way round.) Then put it in the fridge. The wine will
last for a few more days with no problem, even without the use of a wine-saving
Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery and regularly writes about wine in
Israeli and international publications.