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Wine

The 10 Biggest Wine Myths

‘All wine gets better with age’, ‘The more expensive the wine, the better it tastes’, ‘The French invented Champagne’ – can you tell myth from fact? Discover the truth on the 10 biggest wine myths

 

Myth 1: All wine gets better with age

Fact: A lot of wine in Australia is made to drink within 12-18 months. There’s a real trend at the moment, especially with reds, for winemakers to craft young, fresh wines to drink immediately rather than to age. You can still find wines that are made to age for decades, with Hunter Valley Semillon and Australian Shiraz being great examples.  

 

Myth 2: Bottles of wine sealed with a cork are better than those with a screw-cap

Fact: In a perfect world, the perfect cork is the perfect closure, but in reality, perfect corks are extremely rare. Screw-caps eliminate many of the problems that can come with corks such as cork taint, oxidation and leakage and give the wine-lover confidence they’re getting quality and consistency. Find out more about corks vs screw caps here.

 

Myth 3: The more expensive the wine, the better it tastes

Fact: One of the joys of wine is that it comes down to personal taste. How much a wine sells for can indicate the quality of grapes and how expensive the winemaking process was. However, a lot of wine pricing is driven by economics and supply and demand, but this will never guarantee that a $500 bottle will taste five times better than a $100 one.

 

Myth 4: Blended wines are inferior

Fact: This myth has been driven by Australia’s insatiable thirst for single variety wines. However, one of the ironies of this is that some of Australia’s greatest wines ever made were blends. In fact, one of the most famous blended wines in the world is Champagne. Blended wines are a classic case of the end product being greater than the sum of its parts. 

 

Myth 5: The French invented Champagne

Fact: It is argued that English scientist and physician Christopher Merret invented Champagne in the 17th century when he added sugar to a finished wine to create a secondary fermentation.

 

Myth 6: Red wine with meat, white wine with fish

Fact: This is not a myth in that generally, the high tannins in red wine are a delicious complement for the fat in red meat, and the acidity in white wine gives brightness to a match of chicken or fish. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule. For example, you can pair red wine with fish; the secret is matching weight with weight. If salmon is poached, it will be silky, therefore a Rosé or Pinot Noir can work, while roasted salmon/ barra might pair well with a bolder red. Sauce is another factor, a creamy sauce screams for white wine, but a spicy red sauce or mustard sauce could work well with Sangiovese or even cool climate Shiraz!

 

Myth 7: A heavier bottle equals higher quality

Fact: Bottles with thicker glass are pricier because there is a higher investment in the packaging process, but it says nothing about the wine quality.

 

Myth 8: The correct serving temperature for red wine is “room temperature”

Fact: The ideal temperature to serve red wine is 14-18ºC. Serving it too cold will dull the aromas and ultimately the flavours in full-bodied red wine. Room temperature in Australia during the peak of summer may be anywhere from 25–35ºC, so don’t be afraid to pop your favourite red wine in the fridge for half an hour before your barbeque, unless, of course, it’s come from a temperature controlled environment. Learn more about how to store wine at home here.

 

Myth 9: An expensive decanter is the only way to decant wine

Fact: You can decant wine in any clean vessel such as a vase, a saucepan or a teapot. The process is simply to bring the wine into contact with oxygen to really bring out the aromas and flavours and help it to breathe. A stylish decanter obviously looks beautiful, though, and adds to the theatre of wine enjoyment. Learn more about how and when to use a wine decanter here.

 

Myth 10: If a wine smells and tastes like a particular fruit, it has been made with the addition of that fruit

Fact: The only fruit wine is made from is grapes. The other aromas and flavours you might detect are the result of aroma and flavour molecules that a grape shares in common with a particular fruit. For example, Cabernet grapes contain the same flavour molecules as blackcurrants, and Sauvignon Blanc has the same molecules as those found in green vegetables.

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Natural Wine
Words by Nick Ryan on 9 Aug 2016
Natural wine is the hottest thing in the world of wine right now, the boozy buzzword from Brooklyn to Bondi and all licensed points in between. The term ‘natural’ wine is problematic, more on that later, but in essence we’re talking about a winemaking movement that seeks to produce wines with the bare minimum of human intervention. That means no additions, no adjustments, no filtration or fining. Basically we’re talking about removing human intervention in the winemaking process from everything that happens between the picking of the fruit from the vine and crushing it to get the juice through to getting the resultant wine into the bottle. The juice begins to ferment not through the addition of commercially packaged yeast, but rather through the naturally occurring yeasts floating around in the vineyard and winery. The various options winemakers have to fill the gaps that the vagaries of vintage can create are also shunned, which means no added acid, enzyme, nutrient or tannin. Manic organics Any discussion of ‘natural’ wine will invariably touch on organic and bio-dynamic practices and while they’re intertwined, they’re not indivisibly so. When we talk about organic or bio-dynamic wines, we’re referring primarily to the farming practices in the vineyard, while most of the requirements for classifying a wine as ‘natural’ occur, or more accurately, don’t occur, within the winery. So any ‘natural’ wine worthy of the name will come from organic or bio-dynamic vineyards, but there will be wines produced from similarly certified vineyards that can’t be considered ‘natural’ because the winemakers responsible for them choose to be a little more ‘hands on’ when it comes to helping them along the journey from grape to glass. That’s just part of the difficulty with such absolutist terminology. Also tied up in this milieu are the wines that proclaim themselves ‘Orange’, not because they come from the central New South Wales wine region, but rather because they range in colour from the bruised umber of a hobo’s urine to a turbid tangerine akin to flat Fanta. Thrill or spill In essence, Orange wines are white wines made as if they were reds, meaning the juice is kept in contact with skins, often in oxidative environments, to allow the extraction of tannin, phenolic compounds and colour. This can make for some intriguing wines, but anyone expecting them to behave like conventional white wines might be seriously weirded out by the step up in texture and weight. Advocates for natural wine will say that the removal of winemaking fingerprints from these wines allows for the purest expression of terroir, a wine’s ability to express the true nature of the place from which it comes. In theory, this should be right, but experience tells me that’s not always the case. I’ve had natural wines that have thrilled me utterly and I’ve had natural wines that have made me wonder if I should rip my tongue from my mouth and wipe my arse with it rather than subject it to another drop. That’s part of the pleasure, and part of the problem, too. A natural division There is a political statement inherent in the whole ‘natural’ wine movement that makes me a little uncomfortable, an unfair juxtaposition that banishes all other wines that don’t fit the criteria into a bin implied to be ‘unnatural.’ I prefer the term ‘ low-fi’ that some of the best exponents use. It also has to be accepted that a more open-minded attitude to winemaking faults is required to enjoy a lot of these wines and I’m cool with that. There is beauty in the flawed as well as the perfect. But there is a worrying trend amongst the loudest advocates of natural wine to treat any criticism as simply the old-fashioned windbaggery of an old guard who just don’t get it and I think that’s wrong. A natural wine isn’t good just because it’s been made in line with the philosophies and methods that define the movement. A natural wine is good, just as any wine is, when it’s simply a delicious liquid you want to put in your mouth. The world of natural wine is one well worth exploring and some real thrills await those who seek them. Just remember, the best guide is always your own palate and a wine with nothing but a philosophy to commend it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Food
The essential Seafood and wine matching guide
A seafood selection for all of your wine favourites. There’s something so Australian about tucking into a seafood feast with family and friends! We’re so lucky to have such an incredible range available all year-round, from fresh prawns and oysters served deliciously chilled, to barbequed and baked seafood dishes full of fresh flavours. The style of wine you choose to match your seafood is dictated by its delicacy. From the classic combination of crisp Riesling with freshly shucked oysters to grilled shellfish with a modern Chardonnay, and the not so classic match of salmon with Pinot Noir, there’s a vast array of wine and seafood-matching opportunities. LIGHT AND AROMATIC WHITES Dave Mavor and his family love seafood and are mad about Asian food, so a favourite at his house is steamed snapper with Asian flavours . “I’m a huge fan of alternative whites like Gewürztraminer and Grüner Veltliner which pair perfectly with this style of dish,” says Dave. With Asian flavours also think light and aromatic whites like Sauvignon Blanc , Semillon and blends, and Riesling . MEDIUM WEIGHT AND TEXTURAL WHITES “Living on the coast, I’m lucky to have access to fantastic quality fresh seafood and I love having friends around for lunch on weekends, so dishes like blue swimmer crab spaghettini with lemon and chive sauce and garlic pangrattato are my go-to,” says Nicole Gow. “Crab needs a white that’s light on the oak with crisp acidity, making medium weight and textural wines like Marsanne , Pinot G , Vermentino , Arneis and Fiano mouth-watering choices,” FULLER BODIED AND RICHER WHITES When you’re after an easy to prepare, but impressive and quite luxurious seafood dinner, Adam Walls recommends barbequed marron with garlic and herb butter . “Marron is just so delicious and the rich barbequed flavours of the dish are complemented by fuller bodied and richer whites which I love,” he explains. “Go for Chardonnay , Roussanne , Verdelho or Viognier .” LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT AND SAVOURY REDS Trent Mannell suggests forgetting what you’ve heard or read about red wine not going with seafood. “The richness of fish like salmon make it great for red wine-lovers,” says Trent. “I really enjoy dishes like King salmon with warm romesco salad that pair so well with light to medium weight and savoury reds like  Grenache , GSM blends , Nero d’Avola , Barbera , Pinot Noir and Merlot .”
Food
Food and Wine Matching 101
5 STEPS TO FOOD AND WINE MATCHING  Impress your guests with your pairing prowess for your next dinner party with this great food and wine matching guide. To get you started, we put together this short video by our Wine Expert and Tasting Panellist Adam Walls which will give you the confidence to match food and wine at home or eating out. And read more helpful tips below.   ACID + ACID If your food is high in acid – think tomatoes or a squeeze of lemon – you’ll need a wine that’s high in acid too. Riesling is the most obvious white choice, while Italian style reds will balance tomatoes and cut through olive oil.  SAME + SAME Brings together complementary flavours – light-bodied wine + light dish, full-bodied wine + heavy dish and so on. Also pair similar textures and flavours – earthy wine + earthy food, citrussy wine + fruity dish, etc.  OPPOSITE + OPPOSITE Try a fresh, crisp Chardonnay with a creamy pasta dish, or consider a clean, dry Riesling with a spicy chilli-filled Asian dish. Or if you’re serving a dish with very simple flavours, a complex wine can enhance the experience. HEAT + SWEET For spicy dishes, red wines high in alcohol and tannins are a no-no as the alcohol intensifies the heat. Choose sweeter whites such as off-dry Gewürztraminers or Rieslings .   SWEET + SWEETER If your dish is sweet, the wine should be sweeter. Think milk and dark chocolate desserts with Tawnies and Muscats , while white chocolate pairs with Prosecco and lemon flavours are perfect with Botrytis Riesling . TANNINS + FAT This pairing is all about balance. Fat serves to even out tannin intensity, resulting in a smoother, softer red.  WINE STYLES Try these suggestions to match with your favourite wine styles. Fuller bodied red wines Wines: Cabernet , Shiraz , Malbec , Durif Food matches: Their robust structure makes these an ideal partner to hard cheeses and fattier cuts of meat. Medium bodied red wines Wines: Merlot & Blends, Tempranillo , Barbera , Sangiovese Food matches: To match the moderate density tannins go for slow-cooked or rustic style dishes like pasta, Mediterranean fare, tapas. Lighter bodied red wines Wines: Pinot Noir , Grenache & blends, Nero d’Avola   Food matches: With the finer styles, go for gamey, earthy foods like duck, while styles with higher acidity can take richer, spicier dishes. Rosé Wines: Dry, off-dry Food matches: For drier styles, go for salads, charcuterie and antipasto. For off-dry styles, try spicy food or fruit-based dishes. Fuller-bodied white wines Wines: Chardonnay , Verdelho , Viognier Food matches: A richer texture makes these fuller varieties a great match for poultry, pork, rich seafood, cream or cheese-based pastas. Medium-bodied white wines Wines: Arneis , Pinot G , Fiano , Vermentino , Marsanne Food matches: Zesty acidity makes these styles perfect with lighter flavours like tapas, pasta and salads. Lighter-bodied and aromatic white wines Wines: Sauvignon Blanc & blends, Semillon , Riesling , Gewürztraminer Food matches: The high acidity inherent in these varieties makes them ideal for fried food, raw seafood, delicate Asian dishes, and simple Mediterranean food. Champagne, Sparkling and Prosecco Wines: Champagne , Sparkling & Prosecco Food matches: With the richer styles, choose seafood and richer canapés, while lighter styles suit antipasto, fried foods and fresh fruit. Dessert and Fortified wines Wines: Botrytis , Tawny , Muscat/Topaque  Food matches: Botrytis: Cream or fruit-based desserts, pâté. Tawny: Cheddar & blue cheese, dried & fresh fruit, nuts. Topaque: Caramel-based desserts. Muscat: Chocolate-based desserts, dates & dried figs, ice cream. Feeling more confident? Want to take your wine knowledge to the next level? We’ve got you covered.  Check out more of our Wine 101 pieces here  or watch our short video series;  Adam Wall’s Wine Hints and Tips . Cheers!
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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