Myths about wine run the gamut, from “Rosé is a blend of red wine and white wine” (it’s actually made from red grapes), to “Good wine needs to be expensive.” Here are five myths—debunked. Please note that my five recommendations all cost $15 or less!
1. Bubbles Are For Special Occasions
While I agree that some Champagne requires taking out a second mortgage, Champagne accounts for 8% of the bubbly produced in the world. Only wine made in the Champagne region of France can legally bear that prestigious name. Thankfully, sparkling wine comes in many forms. Prosecco and Franciacorta from Italy, Cava from Spain, and Sekt from Austria and Germany are a few examples of non-Champagne secondary fermentation specialties. The US is making some world class fizz as well. You can find quality examples of many of these wines affordably.
My current celebration sparkling: Gruet, Blanc de Noir, NV, New Mexico, USA. $15
2. Pinot Grigio Is For Poolside Quaffing
Pinot Gris is the grape, Pinot Grigio is what it’s called in Italy. True, some Pinot Gris are light and crisp, but others are more substantial. Look to Alsace for Pinot Gris that is rich enough to stand up to meat. Oregon Pinot Gris is perfect autumn white; rich like its Alsatian cousin, but boasting the brightness and liveliness of a serious Friulian Pinot Grigio.
Look for this biodynamic favorite: Cooper Hill Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2007. $14
3. Rieslings Are All Sweet
Whereas there are many sweet Rieslings, the greatest examples of this majestic grape are shown in dry wine—the trocken ("dry" in German) wines. Whereas classic Kabinett Trockens from Germany are dry and light, if you’re craving something more ample look to dry Rieslings of Claire Valley Australia, Austria, or from my own backyard: the Finger Lakes.
Pair Yalumba Riesling, Y Series, South Australia, 2008 with the next spicy meal. $12
4. Beaujolais Is Not Serious Wine
Sadly, Beaujolais has been misconstrued. The Nouveau Beaujolais that are released in November are as different from Village and Cru Beaujolais as a cat and a lion. They share a common grape—Gamay, which is fruit forward, low tannin, and easy to drink. But Nouveau Beaujolais is made using a different method than its serious sisters. Village and Cru Beaujolais can age, whereas Nouveau is produced to drink in its infancy. Pair Cru or Village Beaujolais with almost anything you are eating.
For a delightful surprise try: Domaine De La Chaize, Brouilly, 2009. $14.
5. Rhone Syrahs Are Ridiculously Priced
Syrah stands alone in the Northern Rhone. It’s the only red grape permitted in anything labeled as a Northern Rhone wine. While it’s true that the wines from Cote-Rotie, Croze-Hermitage and Hermitage cost big bucks, there is more to the north than those elites. Look for country wines labeled “vin des pays” for serious old world Syrah without the sticker shock.
I’m currently infatuated with the ’07 Syrah from Domaine Des Remizieres, VDP. $13.