Old Wine Tales


There are so many preconceptions when it comes to wine. It’s difficult to decipher what’s true and what’s not. You have just heard it through the grapevine and now it’s stuck in your liquid memory.  And it’s a shame because you could be missing out on drinking some delicious wines.  So lets run through some of the most common wine fallacies…

Don’t judge a rosé by its colour. 

We all know when it comes to rosé we shop with our eyes.  The rosé trend is still relatively juvenile in South Africa.  In times gone past rosé wines were generally sweet and much darker in appearance. Our winemakers started travelling and discovering far more delicate and delicious rosés made in the South Of France. They came home and bottled their pale pink inspiration.  Now the South African rosé segment is bursting with a lighter style of rosé. Lighter in colour and taste, and definitely not sweet.  But because the consumer is buying dependent on colour sometimes this results in a wine being stripped of colour and any complexity just to get that perfect rosé hue.  The result can just be a soulless pink watery drink that vaguely resembles wine.  Due to it’s popularity there is now more variety in styles of rosé. More complex, intricate rosés are hitting the market, with higher price tags and more ambitious winemaking methods. These wines may be a little darker than your typical wishy washy rosé. But they have an added backbone which in turn makes them a more intriguing partner to food.

Some of my favourite slightly darker rosés for you to try…

Colmant Brut Rosé NV (R205) Modest salmon colour containing an amber blush. Pinot Noir led MCC (75%) this wine is bursting with red fruit, it’s silky and rich.  A saline thread cuts through the creamy palate making it a refreshing and wonderful glass of pink bubbly. 

Raptors Post Rosé 2017 (R100) Light strawberry, cherry sorbet, musk and rose petal nose. Clean and bright mineral palate, slight caramel notes.  A thought provoking and complex rosé; great with charcuterie al fresco dining. 


The year on the front label of Sauvignon Blanc is not its sell by date…

Sauvignon blanc generally peaks within its first couple of years. But the optimum time to drink it is at least a year after it was harvested. Some can continue to age beautifully after that.  The longer they are left, the softer they become, and the need to reach for a Rennie Antacid lessens. Many people add ice blocks to Sauvignon Blanc to slacken the acidity.  But actually you are killing the flavour and all that is left is acidity & alcohol.  

Bubbly is not only for celebratory drinking. 

Yes one always reaches for a bottle of bubbles when there is an occasion to celebrate. But we are lucky to live in a world where there are beautiful bottles of bubbles at very accessible prices.  So if you enjoy a million tiny bubbles in your glass; then drink it to celebrate life on an ordinary day… just because!

“I drink Champagne* when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.”
Lily Bollinger House of Bollinger Champagne

*replace champagne with MCC in South Africa (or your locally produced and far cheaper, and often just as delicious version of bubbles).  Local is lekker as we say In South Africa ! 


Great wines have great ‘legs’

Here’s a quick tip for spotting a wine knob {someone who drinks wine because he/she thinks it makes them look classy but actually knows sweet FA about wine}. If someone is pompously swirling their glass in the air and telling everyone to admire its great legs, “oh look at its legs it must be an exceptional wine,” just smile and have a chuckle under your breath.   ‘The legs’ are actually just an indicator of sugar and/or alcohol content of the wine which in turn has nothing to do with the quality of the wine. 

Don’t judge a wine by its closure. 

Screwcap closures do not indicate cheap, commercial wine with inferior quality to those with cork.  The general rule of thumb is Screwcaps are used for wines that are destined to be drunk young and cork for those which would benefit from cellaring.   The screw cap doesn’t allow any oxygen into the bottle and keeps the wine fresh and in shape.  Bigger wines however need a little oxygen to help smooth out the tannins, making them more approachable as time goes by.  I could write a whole article of the cork versus screw cap debate but the point still stands that you can get some exquisite wines under a Screwcap – so don’t let it deter you. 

“I can’t drink wine because I’m allergic to sulphites…”

“That’s terrible.  I am really sorry you are part of the one percent in the world who is allergic to sulphites.  {excuse my sarcasm but I’m British}.  So you can’t eat French fries or dried fruit either?  And no jam on your toast, no cocktails with Soda?” 

All wines contain sulphites – naturally.  Even Organic wines have sulphur – just less than your average wine. Sulphites are added to wine to help preserve the fruit.  Wines with no added sulphites have a much shorter shelf life and once opened need to be consumed as quick as possible.  There are histamines and alcohol in wine; they are usually the culprits  of hangovers and allergic reactions.  Not the sulphites.  So take some anti-histamines, a rehydrate or just don’t drink so much. Also good to know commercial brands and big CO-ops use much more sulphites in their wine than smaller boutique brands.  Support the little guys; they won’t punish you the next day with such bad wine flu!

Don’t judge a wine by its varietal.

There is nothing more frustrating then hosting a tasting and your absolutely delicious Pinotage gets rejected because once upon a time, a hundred years ago, she had a Pinotage that was bitter and she now is adamant she doesn’t like all Pinotages!  I find it often, with Pinotage in particular – it’s had a difficult childhood, went through an awkward spotty teenager stage from too much chocolate and coffee, but it’s starting to glow up and the ugly swan is finally blossoming.  There are so many different factors that can affect a wine, and yes, there may be some characteristics that remain the same.  But what harm is there in giving it a go.  If you don’t like it reach for the nearest spittoon if its really that terrible.

So in conclusion… the old saying never judge a book by its cover is fundamentally true in wine too.  Don’t determine a wine by its vintage, colour, appearance or anything else; never be afraid to try something that isn’t conventional  and break those preconceptions.  You won’t discover anything new if you don’t push yourself and taste out of your comfort zone.


Bubbles Hyland

Bubbles Hyland

Bubbles Hyland, Well Red Wine Magazine Editor and Founder. Wine is her passion and it's also her job; it engrain every aspect of her life. She aims to make wine accessible, and spread the love and knowledge she has in a fun and approachable manner.

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