Monday, June 15, 2009

You're Mything the Point

Every blog and every wine rag at one time or another has done an article about wine myths. These articles are written for wine novices and usually contain the same four or five myths. These are the familiar, and frequently debunked, myths of breathing, and legs, and serving temperature and crap that only pinheads and Master Sommeliers don't know. Do a Google search, or maybe break your Bing cherry, of "wine myths" and you'll find hundreds of "original" columns that purport to enlighten your feeble wine mind, but which all say the same thing. When it comes down to it, the one gigantic wine myth is that there are any wine myths left at all.

However, there are a few myths that are rarely spoken about and may be unfamiliar to even the most rabid wine fanatic. These are the myths, the taboos, that HoseMaster of Wine is brave enough to expose.

Myth #1
Riesling is one of the greatest white wine grapes.

This is hooey on the face of it. No one really believes this. This is one of those things wine "experts" say to those less educated about wine, but that they say with a sidelong wink to other "experts." Kind of like setting up someone on a blind date with an ugly guy but swearing he's really attractive to most people. English wine writers beat this subject into the ground, apparently as an apology for defeating Germany in WWII. No one really pays much attention to Riesling. When's the last time a bottle of Riesling was in the Wine Spectator Top 10 Wines? When's the last time Robert Parker, and not one of his on-the-take flunkies, reviewed German Riesling? When's the last time you went into a great wine shop and the Rieslings were in a cabinet (OK, Kabinett) under lock and key? Myth exploded!!!

Myth #2 Robert Mondavi is dead.

Come on, the head of a large Italian family vanishes right after his winery goes belly up, his white elephant wine museum goes bankrupt, and some wiseguys are looking for money, and you think he's dead?
Right about now he's starting up a new winery in Argentina with his new business partner Julia Child. They plan on specializing in Malbec, but are calling it Fume Rouge.

Myth #3 Wine ages better in magnums.

Where did this idea come from? I will admit it's great marketing. You sell two bottles at a time instead of one by convincing the suckers that over the long haul the wine will age better in a magnum. Sure. Just like all the guys over seven feet tall live to be a hundred. Hell, no. Those giants drop dead way before us normal size folks. Wine is the same way. Large formats are a death sentence. And, no, you can't go so far as to say that by that logic a .375ml should last even longer than a regular bottle. There ain't no old midgets either.

Vanessa Wong checking a puncheon of syrah at Peay Vineyards

Myth #4
Oak barrels are made from trees.

OK, they used to be made from oak trees twenty years ago. Now they're made from recycled tires. Every now and then, more often than you like certainly, you can stick your nose in a glass and get a great big whiff of a Goodyear or a vintage Firestone--think that's an accident or poor winemaking? Sure, the fancy wineries use old Pirelli or Michelin tires, but the effect is the same. I'm not complaining, mind you, I think recycling is a great idea, and most of the organic and Biodynamic wineries are proud of their recycled tire barrels. Just stop saying wines smell oaky. A lot of them really smell like skid marks...


Charlie Olken said...

One you missed:

Rose´wine in made from the lightly pressed free run juice of red grapes.

In fact, it is made from roses. White roses are used in the making of White Zinfandel, which is actually a rose´anyhow, and pink roses are used to make pink wines which are also rose´. Oranges wines called rose, ostensibly made from Grenache,are actually made from orange tulips since there are no orange roses. The wine is not really a rose´ but we call it anyway--sort of like White Zin is not really wine but we call it that anyway.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I was saving that one for Part 2 of my 20 part Wine Myth expose. However, I am surprised you knew that! No one ever seems to know the real reason some vineyards plant rose bushes at the ends of their rows--for rose', dummies!

Anyone else have a wine myth they want to explain? Aside from the one that HoseMaster of Wine is funny.

Samantha Dugan said...

My personal favorite is the myth that there are no sulfites in European wines. These people come back from vacation and tell me they never got a hangover and checked the sulfite warning, drives me nuts! Could not be that you were on vacation and did not have to get up early, or that you drank that wine with your 2 hour lunch OR that it is not a law in that country to put a sulfite warning on the label....

Chris Kissack said...

You're spot on with number 1. Every body knows Chenin Blanc is the greatest of all white grape varieties. Of ALL varieties in fact.

Anonymous said...

None of you know what you're talking about!
It's Concord that reigns supreme!

(But I honestly do think there just may be something to the idea that a larger volume bottle will cellar longer than a standard 750 ml one)

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Samantha, Gorgeous, My Champion Laker Girl,

Actually, there are no sulfites in European wines, you can drink them while operating heavy machinery, and they cure erectile dysfunction. Though from what I know, erectile dysfuntion is a myth. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Hey Chris,

Welcome aboard my little runaway train. I hate to correct a first time passenger on my little train wreck, but, interestingly, it's a myth that Riesling and Chenin Blanc are different grapes. As it turns out, research done at UC Davis has determined that ALL white wine grapes are actually the same grape! And they are all stupid.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


You're thinking of airplanes not grapes.

And, sure, the bottle will cellar longer if it's bigger. Just not the wine that's in it.

Where do these myths originate? Probably blogs.

Anonymous said...

I sense a contentious argument coming.
Oh never mind, I'm hungover. I'll go drink a gallon of purified water with my four tylenol and google hangover remedies...

Samantha Dugan said...

Cures ED huh?! Splains that French swagger.
Mr. Red Wine Buzz, no need for google, breakfast burrito with extra's magic.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Sam Gorgeous,

Breakfast burrito is an oxymoron isn't it? And, actually, I think you're the cure for ED.


Contentious? Moi? You must have me confused with a serious blogger.

Anonymous said...


Isn't "serious blogger" another oxymoron?