Yesterday afternoon I got off of the phone with a client and realized that I had spent over half an hour clearing up some basic misconceptions about wine. It amazes me, being in the business, that there are still, over so many years of wine appreciation, quite a few questions or simple errors concerning either the history of wine or the basic facts of wine production. Let me clear a few of these up this week.




Here we go:




All "ros&

233;" wines are sweet




This is not the case nor has it been for quite some time. It is true that almost all blush type wines made in the United States began as sweeter ros&

233; wines. This segment of the wine drinking population "demanded" sweeter wines and got them in the form of a ros&

233; wine. The big exception after prohibition was the Almaden winery in California that did a very nice Grenache ros&

233;. They also produced a Nectar ros&

233; which is the wine I started out my drinking life and remained very sweet and had to be served cold to freezing to be enjoyed. Today we have a vast selection of superb dry ros&

233; wines to choose from and many are delicious.




All German wines are sweet




Nope. One could say that most German wines are "fruity" which does not at all mean sweet. For a wine to be considered "sweet" it must have some residual sugar, probably over 1.5 percent to be called "sweet." Under — percent we all have a tough time finding the sweetness in the wine.




Look at German wines over 12 percent alcohol and the word "trocken" on the label. This will give you a dry wine. I think the wine Blue Nun had a great deal to do with the idea that all German wines are sweet. Thankfully, Blue Nun is rarely seen on the shelves today as it is normally pretty marginal all the way around and sticky sweet to boot.




All Chianti comes in a wicker basket




Dear me! It is almost impossible (thank goodness) to find Chianti in those awful "Lady and the Tramp" wicker bottles that candles used to be stuck out of. It took the Italian wine industry some convincing that there was indeed "good" Chianti out there! The fact remains that Italian Chianti (there is no other) ranks with the finest wines in the world. The marginal, high acid, orange and brown tinted juice of the old days has left the planet. This is not to say all Chianti is heavenly, but the majority of Chianti is today light years better than, say, 20 years ago. A $15 bottle of Chianti can be a steal.




All "Champagne" more or less tastes the same




Uh, no. French Champagne has many layers of quality statement and most of it is very good. We see the large houses making superb offerings and we also see "growers" (the small guys) doing fabulous work as well. I think that there is more of a difference in taste between different Champagne producers than just about anywhere else in the wine world. We have so many layers of taste sensations available to us in Champagnes that it simply boggles the mind. One of the great experiences is to attend a real Champagne tasting and taste for yourself the differences and the Joy of well made sparkling wine. Yum!




Well, there's a few myth busters. More next week.