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Wine Myths Debunked

Expensive is better: Grapes from the best vineyards that are aged in new French oak do cost more than those that come from Ed's backyard and go straight into the bladder box. However, high prices don't guarantee quality, and they may simply be used to enhance the wine's image. The best values often come from "undiscovered" regions that are producing great wines at reasonable prices. Try those from Argentina, Chile and Languedoc in the south of France.

Old World is better: Although many fine wines trace their lineage to Old World countries such as France, Italy and Spain, New World countries such as Canada, the U.S. and Australia are producing blockbuster wines. Old World countries have more variable climates that result in distinctly good and bad vintages, whereas many New World countries enjoy consistently warm weather so they produce consistently great wine.

Aged is better: Most wines on the market today should be consumed before the next vintage. They're darn good wines too. While many wines age with distinction, not all old wine is good stuff. A bad vintage may mean the wine doesn't have the structure to age gracefully. And if the wine is stored improperly, you may be getting something that's cooked, corked or contaminated. Your best bet to buy the wine when its released and then age it yourself.

Chilled is better: If you over-chill wine, you numb it. Many white wines are refreshing when chilled at about fifteen degrees Celcius. To chill wine, pop it into the fridge or a bucket filled with ice and cold water to cover the bottle for about thirty minutes. Light red wines such as beaujolais also benefit from chilling as they're meant to be quaffed for refreshment rather than seriously sniffed and sipped. However, lots of folks prefer both their whites and reds at room temperature so more aromas will be released.

Decanted is better: Tannic, mature red wines may benefit from decanting. Not only will the wine "open up" and release its aromas, but you can also ensure you're not drinking the sediment that falls out of the wine over time. But young, fruity red and white wines are best poured directly from the bottle so you capture their freshness in your glass.

Paired is better: Increasingly, wine drinkers are disregarding the old saw of pairing white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat. The tradition is restrictive, boring and often unreliable. What if you're a red wine lover eating a white meat dinner? What if you like to vary the wines you drink during the meal? The only rule these days is to drink what you like.

Leaner is better: A five-ounce glass of wine only has about 125 calories. With the reported health benefits of wine for your heart, better forego that chocolate dessert than a glass of wine.

High scores are better: The power of wine ratings is their simplicity and apparent objectivity. However, scores are not scientific or absolute - they are just one person's opinion of a particular wine at a particular time. Your best bet is read the critic's tasting notes, then taste for yourself.

Bigger is better: While most people would like to have lots of wine, they also would like to have lots of cash, lots of diamonds and lots of caviar. Reality is that choices must be made within a budget. The right bottles can give more pleasure than the dusty collections in an underground wine emporium.