Sunday, August 13, 2017

Common Misconceptions of Wine

I have been working for Paradocx for 3 years now and I have a pretty good idea what our customers like and expect. Some are novices and some are seasoned Oenophiles (that's a fancy word for wine nerds). What they all have in common is that they know what they like. It's no secret our sweet wines sell like crazy and our cans are our "claim to fame" but let's not forget about our award winning premium wines. Mostly dry whites and reds, some single varietal and some unique blends.

As I am editing this, I found out we won a silver medal for out 2016 Pinot Grigio. Go Team! Shameless plug. 

For now I would like to help clear up some misconceptions I have encountered over the years. It's ok, It's not your fault.

Fruity Equals Sweet

This is one of my favorites.This misconception happens mostly with our dry whites. Of our bottled whites, the only true non-dry variety is our Whitewash. This is our semi-sweet white blend.

Our dry whites include Haywagon Chardonnay, an unoaked chardonnay, PDX Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Yield, a five white grape blend. If these are dry, meaning they have no residual sugar, (there may be a trace but it is usually undetectable), why are customers confusing them with sweet wines?

Well, the biggest culprit are those with fruity qualities. The typical reason is that wine lovers are confusing fruity notes with sweetness. We tend to think of fruit as sweet, and aren't fruits typically sweet? White wines tend to have fruity characteristics but still no residual sugar. So it may be that you just don't want an overly fruity or floral wine. 

On the other hand, we hear customers asking for a sweeter Chardonnay. What they probably seek is a fruitier unoaked chardonnay like our Haywagon. 

"Earthier" wines tend to appear drier than fruitier reds. So when anyone asks for a “dry” Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir to go with their meal, which both are already dry, they are most likely asking for a red wine that is less fruity in flavor and a bit "earther" such as our Leverage, 

Some people do like a fruity red such as California Pinot Noir which is why even though our Barn Red is sweeter than our Merlot and Cabernet Savignon, it has similar characteristics, so many customers surprise themselves and buy a bottle.

"Sulfites in wine make my head hurt." 

If I only had a glass of wine every time I hear this. Here are a couple facts I would like to share.

Sulfites occur naturally in all wines, including wines with labels that read, “No Sulfites,” They are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. Sulfites also may be added to combat certain microorganisms, as well as protect the color and delicate flavors of wine.  What sulfites rarely do is trigger allergic reactions, typically asthmatic symptoms;  this again is very rare. The most likely sources of your wine headache may be one of three things or the fact that you over indulged. We don't judge. Let's list those three natural triggers and touch the why and how they may cause a wine headache.


Tannins are found on the inside of grape skins, seeds, and stems. In red wines, the skins are left in the juice and releases polyphenols. This is what causes the drying and slightly bitter sensation you get from red wines. Tannins may contribute, though not scientifically proven, to the headaches few drinkers get. You may not realize it but you may also get headaches from strong teas which are also tannic. If you find this to be the case but still love your red wines, ask for a wine with low tannins, our Barn Red is a great choice. Also white wines are typically free of tannins. 


You may already be familiar with histamines, the chemicals that are associated with allergic reactions, the ones that can cause runny nose, dried eyes, and headaches. I will be honest with you. Until recently I was unaware histamines could be caused by wine. Actually, it has been linked to dry aged beef and aged red wine. Once again this is not a scientific fact and it is still rare.


This one makes sense and happens to be the main reason we are told to drink plenty of water while drinking alcoholic beverages. This is not exclusive to wine but anywhere you will find sugar and alcohol. When your body consumes alcohol and sugar, you need plenty of water to help process the substance. If you deprive yourself from water, your body pulls needed water from other parts of your body including your head and therefore causes a headache. Sweet and dessert wines can sometimes contribute to your wine headache. If you like Rieslings and other semi sweet wines, try a drier version of the same variety. 

Boxed Wines or (Paint Cans) are Inferior to Bottles

Before you pass judgement on any wine format other than traditional wine bottles, you need to ask a simple question. Why is it boxed in the first place?  Is it to sell you inferior wine at a cheap price? Is it to help the environment? Is it to keep wine fresher? Is it just to offer a larger quantity of wine?  

Before I answer those questions, I recall another myth, this one happens to refer to beer in a can vs beer in a bottle. The truth is that this stigma once existed for a reason, but that's a problem of the past. Brewers are looking at the practical usage of beer cans rather than the quality, therefore, they are targeting the same drinkers that typically bought craft beer in bottles. The only difference now are the benefits such as cheaper packaging, fresher quality, environmental friendly, and totally portable. 

Some of the top rated beers in the country come in cans. Some come only in cans. Can you say 21st Amendment?

So why am I talking about beer? That stigma associated with canned beers is not that different from the stigma associated with boxed wines. The fact is many wineries produce good quality boxed wines just like many wineries produce poor quality bottled wines. Our Paint Cans wines are no different.  The Paradocx wine offered in cans is also available in bottles. Come in and see/taste for yourself. 

One Final Thought

A few posts ago, I learned that there is a phobia for just about everything, including the fear of an empty glass which is called Cenosillicaphobia. And I also found out about another one called melissophobia - the fear of bees. Now I wouldn't say I have a fear of bees but rather a love-hate relationship. Unlike the kiddies of today, I spent most of my free time outdoors so I am no stranger to bee stings. That is not the issue here. The chip or shall I say bee on my shoulder comes from the strangest way I got stung. 

My dad played softball for his company and I always hung out at the games. One game in particular took place on one hell of a hot, summer day. Not sure what heat and bees have in common but boy were they out that day. Surprisingly, they left me alone. Well mostly. You see, what goes better with a ball game than a fresh grilled hot dog. But this time the dog came with an unexpected topping. Yes, you guessed it, a bee. Of course I was totally unaware of this until I felt the most horrible pain.....yes, I swallowed it. 

Now I know bees rock the environment and pollinate our world. But what I just found out was that as disgusting as it sounds, wasps play an important roll in the formation of grape fermentation. Apparently they love Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the fungeus found on vineyard grapes. When the grapes ripen in the summer, the buzzers chow down and fly back to their nests, where they give the chewed up mush to their babies. When the little tykes eat the fruit, they ingest the yeast, and their stomachs provide the perfect environment for it to survive the dormant months.When the babies reach flying age they then reintroduce S. cerevisiae to the vineyards and start the process all over again. The circle of life I guess. 

So Mr Wasp, although it may have been a honey bee that took that suicidal leap on to my frankfurter that hot summer day, or maybe it was your hungry ancestor, either way I have not forgotten the pain you have caused, but now, as I drink my glass of Barn Red, I will let this one go. Thanks for your contribution but stay off my food. 

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