Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quick Myths Busted!

A recent episode of Bored to Death reminded me of a few food/drink myths and half-truths that annoy the fuck out of me.

1. VODKA IS MADE FROM POTATOES. Vodka is not made from potatoes. Some vodka is, but the majority of vodka is made from grain or beet molasses. Many American vodka producers are using grapes as well. Vodka as a beverage predates the potato's introduction to Europe. Potato vodka developed in the 19th century as it was a cheaper alternative to grain and could also be used to scale-up production. Improvements in distilling have rendered the cost difference between potatoes and grains essentially moot, but many vodka connoisseurs still consider potato vodka to be a lesser quality spirit, though I personally like the flavor.

2. RED WINE HAS MORE SULFITES THAN WHITE WINE. Wrong. Incor-fucking-rect. Though many ignorant read-half-the-study douche bags presume this is so because they always get a worse hangover from their shitty red Yellow Tail than from their shitty white Yellow Tail and decide to blame it on the "sulfites" and not on the fact they drank cheap sugar and cogener laced rotgut. Red wine is red because the grape juice remains in contact with the grape skins. Along with color comes flavor and natural preservatives in the form of tannins. White wine has fewer natural preservatives than red so winemakers add a bigger dose of SO2 to maintain wine stability (EU has a maximum threshold of 160ppm for red but 220ppm for white). And let me also say: the addition of sulfur dioxide to wine goes back well over a thousand years. It's not bad for you unless you're in the minuscule proportion of the population with an actual sulfur allergy, which involves an anaphylactic response, not just a little headache and some congestion. The best way to avoid a hangover is to drink less and drink better. I've gone through bottles of good stuff and woken up the next morning none the worse for wear, but I've also had two glasses of Lindemann's Shiraz and woken up with a splitting headache.

3. WHITE WINE HAS LESS ALCOHOL THAN RED WINE. Not true. Perhaps in general the average alcohol content of red wine might be a bit higher than white wine, owing to the existence of some 16+% alcohol bombs, but there are as many 15% burn-your-throat white wines as there are mellow 12% alcohol reds. Just read the labels. Chances are your oaky California Chardonnay has a higher alcohol content than that earthy Cotes-du-Rhone.

That's all.

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