School's in session, on your terms: We're asking the Valley's top wine gurus to answer all your wine-related queries, tackling them one at a time each Wednesday, so we can all stress less and pour more. Today's teacher: Katherine Conrad, a wine goddess at Arcadia Fine Wine.
What wine myths need to be dispelled?
SPILL THE JUICE: "In the number one place [of wine myths] is that price dictates quality," says Katherine Conrad, a wine goddess at Arcadia Fine Wine. "It is by far the biggest misnomer about wine: You don't have to pay a certain level of price to have a certain level of quality."
Conrad says an educated wine expert can help dispel the mystery surrounding pricing by identifying quality versus hype.
"There are $20 bottles of wine that drink three times their price," Conrad says. "There are wines that are $50 that drink three times their price. Price does not dictate quality."
Click through for the skinny on wine legs and Conrad's take on the great rating debate.
NOTE THE COMPLEXITIES: Coming in somewhere in the top ten: "Legs don't mean quality," according to Conrad, referring to the way clings to the side of the glass after swirling.
"Swirling is a formal process that assists with your tasting experience by adding oxygen to the wine so that the wine shows itself correctly; however, seeing how the wine drips is more indicative of alcohol content than it is of quality," Conrad says.
And the great rating debate? "People should not necessarily judge a wine solely based on its rating," Conrad says. "Please take into account the fact that a wine that a wine that is less than 90 points is not necessarily a bad wine nor is a wine that is 80 points. You just have to understand what they're being rated on."
Conrad explains the rating system is subjective, dependent on the person who is doing the rating, naming Robert Parker and Burghound.
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"You're coming at similar wine from two distinct types of mindsets, two different veins of people and two different veins of palates," Conrad recommends. "If you're interested in scoring systems, research who's scoring wines and what their background is so you can really understand where their sensory is really directed."
SWALLOW THIS: Conrad suggests finding some expert help to steer you beyond the numbers: "There are a lot of small, little-known projects that don't have the same rating or maybe they were never even rated that might drink just as well as the shelf talker you're looking at."
The Arcadia Wine Goddesses specialize in concierge wine service to help you hone your palate and beat the ratings. Meet the goddesses this weekend at the 65 Roses & Fine Wine Gala Saturday at Sanctuary Resort and Spa benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or at their Scottsdale retail and education center Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Come back for class next Wednesday and leave your questions for our wine gurus in the comments below, no hand-raising necessary.