The oenophiles over at Berry Bros. & Rudd help us to dispel some common misconceptions about wine
Myth #1: Wine gets better with age
Most wines do not "age gracefully" in the bottle, but go from fresh to stale. They are generally made for drinking within a year or two of their release. Only about one per cent of all wines improve with long-term cellaring (we're looking at five to 10 years). Often less approachable on release, these wines require the time to develop to reach a peak level of enjoyment.
Myth #2: Expensive wines are superior
The question becomes what defines 'superior'. Remember, wine prices are not only influenced by quality. Image — along with market conditions, demand, and even currency fluctuations — influence the price. Less familiar wines from more unfashionable regions and producers can also offer surprisingly good value for money.
Myth #3: Good quality wines are always sealed with cork
This is generally the case as cork has long dominated the market as the preferred closure for its ability to allow small amount of oxygen into the wine to help aid its evolution — an important aspect for reds. It is a fallacy though to think that wines don't mature well under a screw-cap. Many very high quality wines now use screwcap closures.
Myth #4: Due to its higher sulfite content, red wine causes more headaches than white wine
Sulfites (sulfur dioxide) is a preservative in many common daily foods, and does not cause headaches. Red wine has less added sulfites than white wines, as the tannin derived from grape skins provide an additional natural preservatives. So white wines, which don't possess tannins and are generally lower in alcohol (alcohol is also a preservative) require more sulfites to prevent oxidation. Whether they're drinking white or red wine, most people end up with headaches as they are dehydrated from the alcohol. To avoid a hangover headache, drink in moderation and rehydrate with water before you go to bed.
Myth #5: Wine legs are markers of a high-quality wine
Wine legs, the streaks that flow down a wine glass when you swirl it, only indicate viscosity — a quality largely attributed to alcohol content. The phenomenon is caused by alcohol evaporating at a faster rate and having a lower surface tension than water. The higher the alcohol, the fatter the legs. Fuller-bodied wines generally have slower dripping legs. Therefore, wine legs are not necessarily an indication of quality.