1) Red wine with meat, white wine with fish

Uh, no...While this generalisation has been around since Adam was a lad, there is pretty much no wrong combination. It's personal choice. If you like drinking a great big, beefy syrah with a gurnard fillet, do so. New World liquor merchandise manager Brendon Lawry maybe put it best when he said: "That's the whole thing about wine - you can't tell anyone they're wrong."

If you are undecided, it's best to look at the flavours involved. Grunty food generally needs grunty wine and vice versa. So you might not want to overpower delicate steamed fish with a muscular red. On the other hand, a hearty, tomato-based fish stew goes well with red.


2) Red wine causes more headaches because it has more sulphites
Red wines actually have fewer sulphites (used for preservation in many wines) than whites. In any case, sulphites do not cause headaches. Hangovers do, caused by dehydration from alcohol - though asthmatics can suffer an allergic reaction from sulphites.

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3) Wine tastes better with age
Most whites are made for immediate consumption. Most reds are made for consumption within five years of release and many are best drunk before then. Many wines go from youth to old age without ever achieving the fabled "sweet spot" where the wine is supposed to taste its absolute best. There are exceptions, of course, like grand cru Bordeaux, where, depending on vintages and skill, they can age for many years - but those wines are a tiny percentage of the world crop.


4) Open a bottle to "let it breathe"
Well, yes, do. But if you really want to aerate your wine and bring out all its smoothness and velvetiness, either pour it into a glass and leave it or decant it. Leaving it in the bottle does little because the bottleneck doesn't allow much aeration.


5) Red has fewer calories than white
It depends - calories come from alcohol as well as sugar content. A cabernet sauvignon with 13.5 per cent alcohol content can amount to 160 calories per glass. An equivalent glass of a lightly sweet moscato or similar wines will have slightly lower calories despite its higher sugar content - because of its low alcohol content (6-9 per cent).


6) Screwcaps don't "cork" the wine
In other words, screwcaps don't allow the wine to spoil. It does happen - rarely, and far more rarely than wines sealed with corks. But it does happen.


7) Red wine is best served at room temperature
This might have once been true, back in the 18th century when central heating and other efficient forms of warmth had not been invented. But it is not true now. In today's heated and insulated homes, room temperature can be so warm a red can be effectively neutered. Some people even like to lightly chill them.


8) Sweet wines are for beginners
Oh no, they are not. Some New Zealand vineyards are turning out world-class dessert wines, the so-called "stickys". Overseas sauternes, ice wines, dessert rieslings and the like are hugely flavourful and rewarding.


9) Single grape wines are better than blended wines
Given the choice between a malbec, cabernet sauvignon, syrah or a blend, many will choose single grape wines. But blends can often be intensely rewarding and consistent - bringing you the best mix of favourite wine tastes. When winemakers take a malbec, for example, and blend it with a cabernet sauvignon and maybe a merlot, it can be so much better than the single grape varieties on their own.


10) You have to know a lot about wine to appreciate it
All you have to know is two things: What you like and what you don't. Another Brendon Lawry quote: "Your palate is in your mouth and mine is in mine. Wine appreciation is all, about individual preference and that's how it should be."

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