May 29th, 2015

Mythbusters: Wine Edition

In the huge, complicated world of wine, it’s very easy to stumble upon misunderstandings and misinformation. These are some of the myths we hear frequently at Bodovino:

MYTH: “Red wine headaches” are caused from sulfites, therefore sulfites are bad for you.

A: Sulfites (Sulphur Dioxide, SO2) are chemical compositions formed from the element Sulphur. SO2 is used in wine as a preservative, added after fermentation for stabilization purposes, killing unwanted bacteria and yeasts. Sulphur is a natural byproduct of the winemaking process, therefore all wines will have trace amounts of sulfites. Finding a wine with no added sulfites is difficult because of SO2’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties– an effect that’s attractive to winemakers. In addition, the reduction of SO2 in wine also reduces the shelf life of the wine.
That being said, here are some common food and beverages with their sulfite PPM (parts per million):
Organic wine: 10-30ppm
Wine: 50-350ppm
sulfites-in-wine

In addition, our bodies produce roughly 1,000mg of sulfites per day.
9.9/10 times, sulfites are not the cause of dreaded “red wine headaches.” These headaches are primarily caused by dehydration and/or from the tannins in red wine. It is estimates that <1% of the population suffer from sulfite sensitivity MYTH: Organic wines are better for you than non-organic wines. A: “Organic” is a legally defined term, both in the agriculture world and in the wine world. There are a few different legal terms to take note of: “100% organic” means that the grapes are grown organically, and there are no added sulfites. Take note, however that “no added sulfites” only means that sulfites were not added to the wine by winemakers; wine will always have some trace of sulfites since it’s a natural byproduct. “Made with organic grapes” means that the grapes were grown organically. Sulfites are allowed to be added during the winemaking process. In Europe, wines that are classified as organic may have added sulfites due to the differences in the EU’s winemaking laws. Organic wines have not been proven to be “better” than non-organic ones. In blind taste tests, it is impossible to determine what is organic and what isn’t. MYTH: Wine “legs” or “tears” signify the quality of a wine. A:Wine “legs” or “tears” are the droplets of wine that form on the inside of a wine glass. It is a commonly held belief that the longer and wider the droplets, the higher the quality of the wine, but in fact, wine legs are just a physical indication of wines that have a higher alcohol/higher sugar content. The legs are an example of the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect, which is the result of fluid surface tension caused by the alcohol evaporating. MYTH: the more expensive the wine, the better the quality. A: It’s a common phrase: “you get what you pay for.” This can be correct with certain things like tattoos, electronics, and cashmere sweaters. With wine, however, that’s not always the case. With some wines, you’re paying for the “name” of the wine. It’s the same scenario with many wines that make the “most expensive” lists or wines endorsed by celebrities of the wine world. Not all expensive wines are gimmicks though. Several of our favourites, including Mollydooker’s “Carnival of Love” and Justin “Isosceles,” have a higher price point but also boast incredible quality. Most of our absolute favourite wines at Bodovino fall in the $10-30 price point. With wine, everyone will have different palates and preferences—there is no “one size fits all” wine. MYTH: Sweet wines are for amateurs and young drinkers. A: Not the case! Many sweet wines like sauternes, trockenbeerenauslese, and ice wines are favourites among oenophiles for their bold flavours and complexities. Many lighter sweet leaning whites like Moscato and Riesling get a bad reputation as being wines for uneducated drinkers. In reality, they may not be complex wines, but they sure are easy to drink and there’s nothing wrong with wine that’s easy to sip! (sources:Wine Folly, Society of Wine Educators)