7 Wine Facts & Myths

By Brian Lemay 29 comments


We all know at least one wine snob who insists
on decanting the wine to “let it breathe” and swirling his glass and saying things like
he can smell the gooseberry notes. But is there any merit to this pretentious
pomp and circumstance? To get you some top shelf wine knowledge,
we went to UC Davis and talked to wine experts Susan Ebeler and Hildegarde Heymann then hopped
back over to the east coast and interviewed Mandy Oser who is the sommelier and co-owner
of Ardesia in New York City. So let’s play a little fact or fiction. Fact vs Fiction: The shape of the glass affects
the taste You have your burgundy, Bordeaux, large, small,
standard, tulip, vintage, flute, tumbler, port and just, like way too many choices. Or at least to the untrained eye. That’s right. This is a fact. The shape of the glass really does affect
the taste of the wine, even though it sounds made up. Most of the wine flavors people talk about–fruit,
chocolate, gasoline– aren’t tastes, but smells. Here’s Mandy to explain how that affects
your palate. The style of glassware is helping to concentrate
the aromas, which helps to enhance your experience with the wine. So big, wide wine glasses help get those scents
into your nose by increasing the surface area of the wine and giving aroma molecules a better
chance to diffuse into the air in the glass. There are also some chemical changes that
can happen when wine interacts with air, reactions with oxygen and other compounds that add new
layers to a wine’s aroma. And yes, the wine maker did intend for this
to happen. But white wine? It just needs a little less headspace to release
its aromas. So that’s why you often see whites in this
smaller, more narrow, narrowly opened glasses. Fact vs Fiction: Swirling your glass and slurping
your wine enhances the flavors. This is a fact so get your slurp on. Smell is the same reason experienced wine
drinkers will swirl a glass before they drink. You’re just introducing the liquid to oxygen,
and what’s it’s doing, simply, is releasing those flavor compounds into the air so you
can perceive them and experience them. What’s cool is then you can see it change
as the wine is out in the air for a greater length of time so you can start to perceive
differences in how it’s involving. And it’s the reason why wine aficionados
are always doing that annoying thing where they slurp the wine into their mouth then
do a weird sorta whistling thing instead of just drinking it like a normal person. “Mmmm. A good year.” That big rush of air helps get aroma molecules
up the passageway that connects the back of your mouth to your nose, so you can get the
full flavor of the wine. Fact vs. Fiction: Hmm yes I can sense notes
of vanilla, and pepper, and peach, and hand sanitizer and bull fecal matter. This is true. All those ridiculous flavors are in the wine. Sommeliers aren’t just making those flavors
up. When they talk about grass or grapefruit or
tobacco notes, there’s a good chance it’s because the wine they’re drinking shares
some of the same molecules with whatever they’re smelling, but grapefruit or Bell pepper isn’t
actually in your wine. Those compounds can come from the grapes used
to make the wine, the yeast that ferment it or from the wood barrels some wine is aged
in. Fact vs Fiction: You Need to Let Your Wine
Breathe Every wine nerd worth their grapes knows the
first thing you do when you open a bottle of wine is to let it rest in the bottle or
a decanter. Ehhh. It depends. Decanting used to be more important when wines
tended to have more sulfur dioxide in them, especially for white wines. Ess Oh Two in its dissolved form is sulfite. This sulfite kills bacteria and can still
be used as a preservative today, but it’s not used as heavily as it used to be. It also has an off smell, so resting your
wine gives the sulfur dioxide a chance to evaporate away. With less of it used in modern wines, that’s
not really that necessary, although off-smells can over power the more delicate aroma of
white wines, so letting your whites breathe can be useful. Also in case you’re wondering, sulfite is
not the reason you get a hangover from red wine. Trust us. But there is still a good reason to decant
your wines. Let’s have Mandy explain why. Sediment is often found in older wines, maybe
5-10 years old. Red wines, where there are some compounds
and tannins that are falling out of the liquid and if you don’t remove them from the liquid
they’re going to impart bitter flavor when you drink the wine and it’s a grainy texture. Some sediment is a mass of biological molecules
from the grapes themselves: pigments, proteins and sugars. You might also find crystals of potassium
bitartrate–which are natural to grapes. So you might want to decant your older wines. Or if your wine is labelled “unfiltered”,
“natural” or “biodynamic.” And maybe others – it’s hard to be complete
when talking about food and drink. You could also go wild and experiment on your
own. Decant half a bottle, then cork what remains
and leave the two side by side for half an hour or so. Taste them both and see what you prefer. Fact vs. Fiction: A $100 Bottle of Wine is
Better Than 2 Buck Chuck Now, some people are willing to fork over
a lot of money for a good wine. But is there really a difference between a
hundred dollar bottle and two buck chuck? A factor of fifty difference? There is good news and bad news here folks. The bad news is yes, there really is a difference. More expensive wines use grapes that are healthier
and in better shape before they’re pressed into juice. The grapes are handled more carefully like
precious newborn babies.  This helps ward off bad flavors that could
come from damage or rot. And the wine will probably be aged in higher
quality barrels too, adding more to the flavor. But the good news is, who cares? If you like how a cheap wine tastes, go hog
wild. Taste is subjective! You could drop a hundo on a bottle of wine
and hate it. Just because it has a higher price tag doesn’t
mean it’s a magical tasting wine. Fact vs Fiction: Serve red wine at room temperature
and white wine straight of the fridge. Let’s say, just for arguments sake, that
you did order that hundred dollar bottle, a white. The sommelier pours your glass, you raise
it to your mouth and sip, and it’s–WARM?! Do you spit it out? Throw it in his face? Act like this is singularly the worst thing
that’s ever happened to you? That som’s actually right. I bet you didn’t know most Americans drink
their whites too cold and their reds too warm. Temperature is the measure of how fast  molecules
are moving. When they’re moving faster, more of those
aroma compounds can escape into the air and get up your nose. The flip side is a colder wine will have less
flavor. So a non-frigid white will give more of its
delicate flavors, while a too-warm red could be a little too powerful for your schnoz. An experienced wine drinker will aim for between
warm and cold. Like a grown-up Goldilocks, somewhere in the
middle is juuust right. I think one good rule of thumb especially
if you’re at home is pop your red wine in the fridge for maybe 15 minutes before you’re
ready to serve it and theh at the same time you could actually take your white wine out
of the fridge and let that warm up a little bit. Fact vs Fiction: Drink red wine with red meat
and white wine with fish Everyone knows you drink red wine with meat
and white wine with fish, right? Well, that’s not true. So I find wine and food pairings so interesting
and I think a lot of the old standard rules are obsolete. So for example I think that what is more important
with pairings is to look the type of sauce or the garnish you have with the dish versus
oh this is just meat or fish. For example, say you’re serving a nice meaty
halibut, it’s a very dense fish and maybe you’re serving it with a red wine sauce,
that could actually end up over powering a delicate white wine and you probably want
to choose something like a pinot noir with a dish like that and even some meats can pair
nicely with a robust white wine. The biggest thing to remember is it’s your
taste buds. Drink whatever you want. Even if it’s this: So now you know the facts to be as pretentious
with your wine as you’d like. Heck I’ve been slurping a Chardonnay like
a housewife at Napa Valley this entire video. The more you know, right? So pour yourself a glass of whatever you like
and browse some more of our videos. They too, get better over time. We want to say thank you thank you thanks
to Susan Eblere and Hilldegarde Heymann at UC Davis for lending us their time and experience
and thank you so much to Mandy Oser at Ardesia in NYC. Let us know in the comments how many of these
you got right and while we still have you here do you li  ke podcasts? Do you like podcasts about SCIENCE?! We want to hear from you about how we could
make an AWESOME podcast! Click the link in the description and take
our survey, and you could win a $25 Visa gift card. Thanks!

29 Comments

Norskebanan

Aug 8, 2017, 12:08 pm Reply

The wine snob actor was brilliant

Hsuman Of Magnanimous Intent

Aug 8, 2017, 12:19 pm Reply

I am 86th viewer!
Also as a brewer it makes sense! Can't wait to brew a pale white grape euro ale :3

Hsuman Of Magnanimous Intent

Aug 8, 2017, 12:19 pm Reply

Hahaha I clicked this video too fast

Hsuman Of Magnanimous Intent

Aug 8, 2017, 12:23 pm Reply

Yes make a podcast! Educate us!

Napishtim

Aug 8, 2017, 12:29 pm Reply

cheap wine isn't drinkable, sometimes it's not even wine. And 4-10° is way to low for white wine. Most white wines should be drinken between 10 and 14°C.

LoneStar Dullahan

Aug 8, 2017, 12:56 pm Reply

So statistically experts have trouble telling the difference between cheap and expensive wine in blind taste tests (as long as the cheap wine isn't more or less watered down ethanol with grape kool aid as some large producers put out) and in tests where labels were swapped they went for the more expensive looking one most of the time.

Also, even a high quality wine that does everything right can have a bad year(too low or high rainfall for example) and come out worse than a cheap wine that had a really good year.

I guess my point is that branding in wine is way more bullshit than it is in most products, so don't let someone look down their nose at you if you like what you're drinking…

Sleep Is Not Necessary

Aug 8, 2017, 2:32 pm Reply

Meh, I'm good with a $4 bottle of cabernet in a coffee mug.

Reactions

Aug 8, 2017, 3:37 pm Reply

Now that you can enjoy your wine with 100% less myths, make sure to also enjoy it in moderation!

Have any other myths you want us to tackle? Leave them below in the comments!

Poop Fingers

Aug 8, 2017, 4:16 pm Reply

just thinking about wine gives me heartburn

Marc Supsic’s Wine Living

Aug 8, 2017, 4:17 pm Reply

Great video, Reactions! I've covered these topics in the past, and I'm glad to see you're encouraging people to drink what they like, at the end of the day. There is a ton of snobbery in the business and I despise it!!!

That being said – the doubters who say that wine experts can't tell the differences between wines and that wine tasting is BS, most high-end professionals have to go through rigorous training to learn how to sense the subtle nuances in wines. I had to take an exam where I tasted 12 wines blind, and had to describe them, rate them and guess their rough age and origin. You either pass, or fail. It's no trick – you actually have to know what you're doing.

As a certified Somm and wine lover I'd add, that most people don't really know what they like – until someone helps them discover what's out there. That's what I try to do! Keep it real and have fun! Cheers🍷

sacul xela

Aug 8, 2017, 5:44 pm Reply

Wine and all alcohol tastes like shit, I've only drank to impress someone, so far I only like the sweet wine and sweet drinks

Bless this mess

Aug 8, 2017, 7:24 pm Reply

Hildegarde heymann sounds like a professor from Hogwarts

Largo Di Milano

Aug 8, 2017, 7:31 pm Reply

Old rules are obsolete – yes, these are just that, fashion and elitism.

Nicolas Perez Prada

Aug 8, 2017, 8:37 pm Reply

Asking a sommelier if the shape of the glass affects the taste is like asking a priest if god exists, it’s not science. Saying the shape influences the smell is not proven, it’s stated, and I’d really like to know the difference between a beaker and a wine glass.

Brayden Haines

Aug 8, 2017, 9:40 pm Reply

One question: How does one become professional at "tasting/smelling" fermented grape juice if anyone can taste/smell?

Julien Miquel

Aug 8, 2017, 8:07 am Reply

It is a nice video. I like how it explains essentials of wine clearly, and pretty accurately too.
I get why there's only 7 facts there, but there is one that is fundamental when you drinking wine: that's how many calories you're actually ingesting!?!
I wrote a piece, indeed, about the 7 most important facts (as well) about calories in wine (specificaaly) http://socialvignerons.com/2017/03/15/calories-in-wine-top-7-facts/
Cheers to sharing this cool video i'll keep on hand for explaining wine, simply.

Jan L

Aug 8, 2017, 2:26 pm Reply

So glad I subbed to this channel. The people making this channel are some awesome humans! 🙂

Neal Fairbanks

Aug 8, 2017, 8:01 pm Reply

Good information on this video. It basically confirms that simple steps can add to the experience of drinking wine, but common sense is the best way to go. Drink what you like and forget about price and extensive rituals. Makes sense.

gskibum

Aug 8, 2017, 1:04 pm Reply

I'm going to stick with drinking my box wine out of coffee mugs.

gskibum

Aug 8, 2017, 1:11 pm Reply

I pair red wine with food.

I pour white wine down the drain.

gskibum

Aug 8, 2017, 7:58 am Reply

I'm going to help the molecules hit my nose by having the wine through a neti pot.

jogandsp

Aug 8, 2017, 4:32 am Reply

Any other teetotalers? No? Just me?

Stare Wyatt

Aug 8, 2017, 1:24 am Reply

Commenting for YT algorithm!

Ireallyreally Hategoogle

Sep 9, 2017, 9:41 pm Reply

All wines taste same, they taste bad.

neogeoriffic

Jan 1, 2018, 7:19 pm Reply

Most cheap red wines have zero complexity and taste like grape juice.

UnderneathTheBottle Wine Sommelier

Jan 1, 2018, 8:19 pm Reply

I love the FACT that you are doing wine 🍷😜

HistoryofTek

Jun 6, 2018, 4:58 pm Reply

I been drinking red wines for 20 years…..I am not a wine snob….I have had really bad expensive wines and really good cheap vineyards….I even am getting out of corkscrew wines unless I be going to party but at home a twist off cap wine is awesome – no playing around with corkscrew and mess …and also another myth – wines that are more aged are better – myth! ….most wines on most shelves need to be consumed within 3-5 years and this is fact…

Francis Mausley

Jan 1, 2019, 5:47 am Reply

A popular habit for the "refrined", but I'll pass on the "sophisticated" image…It's best to read objective scientific studies: "…the wine which men drink, and which causeth their intelligence to pass away,…" ~ Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Faith

Terrilynn Dubreuil

Feb 2, 2019, 8:07 pm Reply

I really appreciate your information and confirmation of certain wine facts! I've subscribed. (wine server and tour guide)

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