Photo: Gregor Halenda
Lettie Teague has been writing about wine for more than 15 years and drinking it even longer. In that time, she's heard a lot of so-called facts about it that are misleading. And while they may not be harmful, they can make drinking wine a lot less fun—not to mention more expensive.
1. Myth: Old wine is better.
Reality: Much of the time, that's simply not true, since most wines are made to be consumed within a year or two of their release. The rare exceptions come with a lot of responsibilities attached, beginning with proper storage and a group of knowledgeable and appreciative friends to drink them with when the time comes.
2. Myth: "Legs" are evidence of a high-quality wine
Reality: Legs, or "tears," as the streaks that run down the glass are called, are simply an indication of viscosity, which is largely attributable to a wine's alcohol content. The higher the alcohol, the fatter the legs.
3. Myth: Champagne and caviar are a perfect match.
Reality: The best match for Champagne is...potato chips! Champagne is the beer of wine. Like beer, Champagne has a lot of acidity. And that acidity makes it brilliant with fried fish or fried chicken. In fact, I think KFC should offer Champagne by the glass.
4. Myth: Dessert should be paired with a dessert wine.
Reality: Almost all sweet desserts will overwhelm even the most intensely sweet wine and end up killing the fruit, resulting in a wine that seems like it's all acidity. If you insist on drinking wine with dessert, try a sparkly Moscato d'Asti; it's low in alcohol and not terribly sweet, with lots of bright, juicy flavor.
5. Myth: Wine doesn't go with Chinese food.
Reality: The Chinese traditionally don't drink wine with their meals, but that doesn't mean you can't. Go for wines with high acidity, lower alcohol, and relatively understated flavors and aromas. Two favorites: Riesling and Pinot Noir.
6. Myth: Only leftover white wine should be refrigerated.
Reality: Cold acts as a preservative as much for red as it does for white, though you'll have to warm up the red a bit at room temperature before drinking it. If you can't drink the remainder of a bottle within a few days, put it in the freezer. It will be nearly as good as it was the first night.
Next: Meet 9 of the world's top women vintners (and get a tried-and-true hangover cure!)
From the October 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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