Anyone who has been the victim of a cheap, acrid glass of white wine will know that not all drinks are created equal.
But for those of us who aren't experts, attempting to navigate the wine jargon of 'legs' and 'punts' in the quest for a decent, good value tipple can see us reaching for a bottom shelf plonk in desperation.
So, in aid of democractising getting tipsy on top-notch vino, we've asked some wine experts to highlight and debunk the biggest myths about wine. Forget everything you think you know about wine, from only pairing meats with red and shunning screw caps.
Legs = better quality
"Some folks look at the slow dribble of wine oozing down the side of the glass - we call this the legs - once it’s been swirled and assume the bigger the ‘legs’ the better the quality," comments The Independent's wine and spirits columnist and brand ambassador for the Vivino wine app Adrian Smith. "In actual fact it’s just a higher concentration of alcohol resulting in the leftover wine sliding down the glass at a slower pace, nothing more."
Screw caps mean plonk
Nothing quite beats the satisfying 'pop!' as a cork slides free from a wine bottle. So it's understandable why a screw cap is looked down upon a little. But it's a myth that a screw cap signals the contents are poor quality.
Sam Linter, the sommelier at Michelin-starred London restaurant Pied a Terre says: "The one great advantage of a screw top is that the wine can’t be corked, this is when the wine is infected and takes a very mouldy smell and taste, can’t happen with a screw top.
"On the down side of screw tops, the wine may be a little tingly with CO2, as the gas can’t escape the bottle; giving the bottle a good shake after opening will lift this off the wine."
Big dimples means the wine is better quality
That dimple in the bottom of a bottle — or punt — signifies that the manufacturer has spent a bit more money on the bottle, so it's reasonable to assume that it correlates with the contents, too. But "better than literally the worst wine" isn't the standard we're trying to hit, now, is it?
"A deep punt just means the winery has wasted more resources and money on the glass," says Peter Mitchell, a master of wine and director of Jeroboams wine shops in London. What the label tells you is more important than the glass it's stuck on.
A silver spoon keeps bubbly fresh
The idea of this apparent trick is to keep the cool air inside the bottle - but it doesn't work. (Who's keeping their Champagne or proescco for that long, anyway?) What does work, though, is plugging the bottle with a stopper with a vacuum seal, according to Robin Copestick, managing director at i heart Wines.
"Keep it cold it’s more likely to retain some of its fizz and will still be drinkable for a day or two," he advises.
You need to spend $$$ to drink delicious wine
The saying "you get what you pay for" doesn't quite work with good value wine. Of course, bottles that cost hundreds of pounds won't match up to the plonk in the supermarket, but perfectly quaffable wine is easy to find all over the high street. Wine writer Adrian Smith advises spending around £10 to hit the quality/value sweet spot.
Red wine goes best with cheese
"The tannins in full-bodied red wines are not compatible with the protein in milk products, and strong flavoured cheeses don’t need to compete with a full bodied red wine," says Alexis Jamin, head sommelier of Gravetye Manor in Sussex.
"Dry white wine is often better suited, or sweet wines can pair beautifully with blue cheese. If you’re ever struggling to pair with cheese, the best bet is to go for a wine local to the area the cheese comes from."