Let’s have a look at some of the myths around wine, and dispel or confirm them.

Myth: Preservatives and additives cause headaches and hangovers

The reality is that headaches and hangovers are caused by alcohol. The effect of alcohol can be worsened if a person is dehydrated. Red wine contains tannin, which is a dehydrating agent. So drink lots of water.

Sparkling wine pressurises the stomach and enlarges it slightly creating more surface area to absorb the sparkling wine – hence you feel the effect faster.

Italian wine generally has more preservative that Australian wine. Red wine generally has less preservative than white wine.

The problem with finding out the cause of headaches is the inability to perform a controlled experiment – the food consumed, the stress from the office or kids, the relaxation when on a trip, and so on are all huge factors. There are many allergic reactions to food types and the wine is blamed incorrectly.

There is a strong new movement in wine called “Natural Wine” and even though organic and biodynamic producers still use preservative, they often play on fears of additives in order to sell their wine.

Myth: Red wine must be served at room temperature

Red wine should be served at European winter room temperature – about 18 degrees.

In hot Australian weather, cooler is better – around 15 degrees; so put red wines in the fridge. Even the icon expensive reds. I have often had great wines such as Bordeaux and Penfolds Grange from the fridge.

Pinot Noirs in particular are best chilled.

Myth: Any wine is better when it is older

A variant myth is that a young wine that is poor will improve if it is “put away” for a few years.

The truth is that only good young wines become good old wines.

Oh – and if you are storing wines and the bottle is sealed with a cork, then the bottles do not need to be rotated. If the bottle has a screw cap then store them standing.

Myth: Riesling is sweet and Chardonnay is too oaky

Riesling from Germany can be delicately sweet in order to balance its steely acidity. In the 1970s Australian Rieslings were made a little sweet but since then, Aussie Rieslings are dry fresh and light bodied. They are terrific accompaniments to light delicate food and in hot weather.

Chardonnays in Australia were made with too much oak in the 1980s but this trend soon changed and the pendulum may have swung back too far the other way! It is true that a lot of cheap Chardonnay is quite alcoholic and has a sweet-and-sour richness that is unpleasant. Many tasters think this is a product of over-oaking. Not true! The solution is to drink better Chardonnays.

Myth: Quality is what you like

No it’s not! Quality is an objective measure – based around intensity or aroma, palate length and palate persistence and these are all related to the grape variety and style in question. Wine beginners do recognise true quality if it is presented to them. A brief explanation on recognising quality will transform a wine taster’s ability and enjoyment.

Myth: The bigger a wine tastes, the better

Some big wines (such as Shiraz and Durif) can be good. But wine does not need to be big to be good. Hence delicate Riesling and Pinot Noir can be wonderful even though not big in style.

Visit Andrew’s blog for more interesting wine facts.