No, Natural Wine Isn't "Better for You"—and 7 Other Major Wine Myths

And don't serve your whites straight from the fridge.

"Wine gave a sort of gallantry to their own failure." – F. Scott Fitzgerald

He's right. Failure can be fun. And what won't wine with a side of gallantry solve? That being said, when it comes to vino itself, we'd really prefer to get things right. In hopes of bringing out the best flavor and aroma from our bottles of Bordeaux and bubbly, not because we really care what our in-laws think. (Right? Right!)

Here are eight major misconceptions you're making when it comes to wine—plus the solution to your every red-white-and-rosé-related wrong—according to Christopher Hoel, the founder of Harper's Club and expert wine curator for Wine Insiders and Martha Stewart Wine Co.

01 of 08

Myth: Reds should be served room temperature, whites should be ice cold.

By and large, Americans do not drink their wines at the right temperatures. Reds are served far too warm and whites too cold, even at top-notch restaurants. Rather than room temperature, try putting your reds in the fridge 20 minutes before serving for the best flavor. Whites and rosés, on the other hand, should be served only slightly cooler than reds. Take the bottle out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving to warm it up. Conversely, sparkling wines should be kept cold in order to maintain the integrity of the bubbles. Open the bottle straight from the fridge or ice bucket (no freezer!) and serve immediately for the best experience.

RELATED: These Red Wines Are Actually Best Served Chilled, Says a Sommelier

02 of 08

Myth: Cork is king.

Yes, corks are steeped in tradition and it is certainly a special, ritualistic experience to ceremoniously pull a cork before indulging in a delicious bottle of wine. "Don't get me wrong, I love the theater of cork closures," says Hoel. That said, screw cap bottles should not be looked down upon, or considered the mark of a lower-quality wine. There are actually some incredible benefits to bottling with a screw cap. For one, screw caps do a much better job of protecting wine from cork taint, known as trichloroanisole (TCA). TCA can happen to all wines during production, but because cork is permeable, bottles sealed with it are more susceptible to damage and oxidation. Another pro of screw caps is that there's no corkscrew sediment in the wine—plus they're easier to open. Because of this, many high-end winemakers (and almost all winemakers in New Zealand) have made the move to screw caps.

03 of 08

Myth: The more expensive the bottle, the better the wine.

The wine industry is mired in elitism, and it's easy to think that a wine needs to be expensive in order to be high-quality. This simply isn't the case. The fundamental process for making wine is the same for everybody, and there are plenty of delicious, elegant, affordable wines across every varietal and flavor profile. The important thing is to find wines that you like. Try different varietals, regions, and amounts of residual sugar within your budget. See what you enjoy, and then explore from there. Never feel limited by price. A $40 Merlot isn't necessarily four times better than a $10 bottle.

04 of 08

Myth: Natural wine is better for you.

One of the biggest fads right now is the natural wine movement, which means the wine is farmed organically and there are no chemicals used during production. "In my opinion, there is nothing inherently better about a natural wine from a health or flavor perspective, and there really isn't much consistency in the description," Hoel says. "I enjoy some natural wines, and there are others I don't find palatable. It's simply hard to deduce anything from the 'natural' description alone, so don't let it define your choices."

05 of 08

Myth: Aeration doesn't do anything.

Not enough people decant their wines. Decanting is important: it removes sediment, but it also 'opens the wine up' and brings out its peak flavor. Hoel decants almost everything, including white wines. Decanting times vary depending on the type and age of the wine. For whites, you can simply pour into a decanter, give it a shake, and serve immediately. Lighter reds, like a Pinot Noir, take around 30 minutes; bigger reds, like Syrahs and Cabernets, can be decanted for many hours. "Decanters can be pricey, but I recommend buying something affordable—Amazon has many offerings around $30—and saving your money for more wine," he says. In a pinch, you can also decant with a clean glass pitcher or a vase.

06 of 08

Myth: Chardonnay is too oaky.

The 1980s almost ruined Chardonnay's reputation, where sugar-filled, oaked bottles reigned supreme. Things have changed since then, and there are many different styles of Chardonnay to meet your preferences. Unoaked and lightly oaked bottles have cropped up in places like California and South Africa, and even the oaked versions are more refined than they once were. "I still enjoy a Chardonnay aged in oak. It can be delightfully buttery and smooth with caramel and vanilla notes," says Hoel. But if that richness isn't your thing, try a Chardonnay aged in a different material, like steel. Also, keep an eye out for wines from Chablis in France. These wines are typically drier with fruit-forward notes, similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay can be truly lovely in the right hands, so don't turn your back on it.

07 of 08

Myth: You should only drink rosé in the summer.

Rosé is marketed as a seasonal product, but it is delightful year round. Light, dry rosé highlights the flavors of grilled meats—like lamb and burgers—cheese courses, and seafood. Darker, more robust rosés can lighten up rich dishes, like barbecue and pizza. Even if it's not paired with a dish, rosé can still be enjoyed as a nice transition between white and red wine tastings, or if you need a breather from all that eggnog.

08 of 08

Myth: Sparkling is only for special occasions.

While the holidays are the perfect time for popping celebratory bottles of bubbly, we encourage you to start drinking sparkling wines no matter the occasion. The effervescence, acidity, and crisp flavors pair beautifully with a myriad of foods: shellfish, fried foods (like chicken), popcorn, sushi, pasta, cheese, and beyond. You will rarely go wrong with ordering a bottle of bubbly at dinner, let alone bringing one to a party or social gathering. And while Champagne is the old standard, we also love dry Cava, Prosecco, and Crémant (wines made exactly like Champagne but from outside the Champagne region).

RELATED: 6 Delicious, Affordable Types of Sparkling Wine That Aren't Champagne or Prosecco

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