What to Look For in a Good Wine
We are increasingly surrounded by more and more wine choices. In shops, in restaurants, pretty much everywhere! They are made from different grape varieties, come from different countries, have different names, appearances, styles and price tags.
But how do you tell if they are any good?
The only way to do this really, is to taste the wine. You may be able to get help with your purchase from wine advisors, apps, or good old fashioned research, but once you have paid your money and opened the bottle, there are a few things to look out for that can help you understand whether a wine good, great or just ok.
And it’s important to note here that price is not always going to be a determining factor. While most great wines are expensive, they often come from small regions that have a long history of making great wine, and so are helped by their reputation. But if you look at lesser known regions, or varieties, this is where you can pick up some top quality wines for a lesser price tag.
So when it comes to tasting your wine there are 4 things you can look out for to indicate quality: Length, intensity, complexity and balanced. To explain these a bit more:
- Length – How long you can taste the wine for after you swallow it? Longer = better. While you may have a wine that tastes nice, if the length is short (a couple of seconds) it is not good quality.
- Intensity – How strong are the flavours? And how specific? If you get a very clear, very intense lime and green apple flavours, this is better than having a general impression of citrus and green fruit.
- Complexity – How many flavours are there? The better quality the wine is, the more flavours it tends to have. If you can pick out 10 or 20 words to describe the taste, chances are you are onto a winner. Simple wines, for example something just has red fruit flavour, are less likely to be good quality.
- Balance – Making sure the structural elements of the wine are in harmony. This means acidity, body, sweetness, tannin, flavour. If you have a lot of one thing, often you need a lot of another to contrast it. E.g. Sweetness balanced with acidity, acidity balanced with flavour. If your wine has lot of one element but not much of any other it will not taste as good.
Now working out whether your wine has these characteristics does take a bit more thought than what you might normally put into your drink, but I would suggest that if you do this and find something that fits all these criteria, it will only enhance your enjoyment. And as someone who tastes a lot of wines (seriously), I find that when I am tasting a great wine it often has the power to remind me why I fell in love with in the first place.