Common Wine Myths Uncorked

Drink, Wine

This post comes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma associate Steven Lauer.


Consider these three statements:

  • The world is flat
  • The moon is made of cheese
  • Opening a bottle of wine before you drink it helps the wine to breathe


Which ones are the myths? Got ya—they’re all myths!

Myth 1: Open a wine to let it breathe.


Technically, this can be true for reds . . . but simply opening the bottle will do nothing to aerate the precious contents. Older and younger wines tend to benefit most from aeration, so the next time a waiter asks, “Would you like to let the wine breathe?” an appropriate reply might be, “Sure, do you have a decanter?” If the restaurant doesn’t have one, pouring the wine into the glass and swirling it can have the same effect. Click here for more information about aeration.


Consider some of the other common myths about wine.


Myth 2: Sniffing the cork helps determine wine quality.


No. If anything, it means you’re a novice, because there is very little you can tell about wine from smelling the cork. So why does the waiter put the cork on the table?


Back in the day, this practice of showing the cork to the patron confirmed that the label on the cork matched the one on the bottle. What can a cork reveal about the wine’s quality? If it’s wet, this is a sign the bottle was stored properly, on its side.


Myth 3: If you don’t like a wine, just send it back!


Alas, we have all made poor choices when ordering wine at a restaurant. Perhaps the wine didn’t pair well with your entrée, maybe it was too sweet, sour or bitter, or you were simply more in a “red mood” than a white one.


So, just send the wine back for another? No. The ONLY time you should consider sending the wine back is when it is defective. Meaning, the wine is “corked” or has a serious flaw that makes it undrinkable.


Have other wine myths to share? Please leave a comment and enlighten us.


About the author: Steven works in Williams-Sonoma’s corporate training department. He is a self-described refugee of the American Midwest who came to the Bay Area for work and has since fallen in love with the hearty red wines of Sonoma Valley. Steven balances his wine vices with mountain biking and running in California’s Marin County.

One comment about “Common Wine Myths Uncorked

  1. Jenny Johnson

    Are there myths about the perfect serving temperatures for varieties of wine?


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