Some of the conventional wisdom about wine is true; most has an element of truth; some is really stretching it. Many of these bon mots reflect supercilious attitudes—snobbery you expect from uninformed waiters. This is the third part of four on wine myths.
6. Wine should be stored on its side. Well, mostly true. If wine is sealed with a screw top or plastic “cork,” lying in repose, on its side, is not so important. And, if the wine is meant for drinking when released, like most American wines, then maintaining the seal offers fewer benefits.
No matter your, or the bottle’s, attitude, wine should be sealed away from air and in a cool, constant temperature space—the traditional cellar or cave is ideal. Moistening the cork often improves the seal so the bottle on its side is more likely to age well. In a practical sense, this means you want to avoid wines from shops that don’t have their slow-selling wines lying down and avoid old wines from the top shelves in stores, because top shelves are more likely to get warm or hot.
Beaujolais Nouveau can be stored upright with little loss because it should be drunk soon after release.
Homework: Check out your local wine stores to see how they store wines. While you’re at it, ask when they have tastings.
7. Good wines are sealed with real corks. False. There are two things wrong with this assertion. First, some very good wines are sealed with plastic corks or screw-top closures. Second, cork can damage the wine. A corked wine has an undesirable musty smell and has often lost some of its good qualities. So, if you detect moldy newspaper aroma on your first whiff of a wine, you’ve probably found one of the reasons for avoiding cork.
Homework: Ask your favorite wine store to alert you when they have a corked wine so you can see one of the bad things that can happen to wine.