With nearly twenty years in the wine industry, first for seven years as a co-owner of a retail wine store in Chicago and the last twelve years as a co-founder of Cellar Angels, I’ve heard my share of crazy wine theories and myths. Whether these are folklore, legends, rumors or simply ignorance, for some reason they continue to persist.
With this in mind, I wondered what others in the wine industry had heard or experienced in their roles. I decided to reach out and interview Brady Moran of Moran Manor. By day Brady is the Direct Sales Manager for Red Car winery in Sebastopol, a winery crafting exceptionally small quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. By night he oversees wine production from his family’s estate in Knights Valley. The vineyard is less than one acre in size and surrounded 360 degrees by Beringer’s Knights Valley vineyards. Brady has worked in California, Oregon and in distribution, so my guess was he’s hearing some wine myths. I was correct.
Wine Myth #1: Making Wine According to the Lunar Cycle
The first myth we tackle is making wine according to ‘moon magic’ or the lunar cycle. Producing wine in accordance with the lunar cycle, phases of the moon, is often referred to in biodynamic winemaking and requires strict adherence to a daily schedule. This sometimes presents a challenge especially with high temperature days during harvest when the fruit must be picked. The take-a-way was there can be usefulness in planting or harvesting by lunar cycles, but generally, the moon doesn’t predict weather – and THAT, along with ripeness, is the main factor in determining when to pick grapes. I think a vertical tasting with a biodynamic winery would be interesting to see if you could taste the difference.
Wine Myth #2: Legs Help Determine Quality of Wine
The next myth discussed is “wine legs”. This was a question we often received at the retail wine store, what are legs in wine? Brady and I go a step further and break down that legs in wine do not necessarily equate to fine wine or better quality. Rather, legs are an indication of alcohol presence which further reveals an estimate of sugar levels. How quickly or slowly a drop descends the side of your glass depends on many factors including the quality of your glass! This is part chemistry and physics, and also relates to surface tension, but not a higher quality wine.
Wine Myth #3: Decanting Will Improve Any Wine
Viewers and customers are always asking about decanting wine. “What does it do to the wine and how do I use a wine decanter?” Decanting wines is designed to introduce oxygen and breathe life into a wine. When you pour a wine into a decanter, you’re exposing a large portion of the wine’s surface to air. This is in contrast to merely pouring wine into a glass where a limited amount of the wine’s surface is exposed. Decanting wine is not a myth, however, not all wine is created equal and therefore not all wines need to be decanted. Younger wines made from bolder red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah, benefit greatly from some decanting time. The same varieties that have been bottled for a decade or more should be assessed for decanting needs. Learn more about decanting from this SIP Wine Tasting & Education episode.
Additional myths or wine topics we explore in this video:
- Smelling the wine cork—does it reveal a wine’s quality?
- Do sulfites really cause headaches?
- What about a wine bottle’s punt? Does that have an influence on quality and can you make great wine with a flat bottom bottle? We think Clos du Val would say yes!
There are many more wine myths yet to explore. Tune into SIP to ask your questions on important wine topics. In the meantime, please keep drinking the good stuff!
Written by Martin Cody, Cellar Angels Co-Founder and SIP Host