What Makes a Good Wine?

Red wine

Many “experts” tend to differ when it comes to what makes a good wine – with each other, and also with the general public. The result is of this disagreement is that the general wine consuming public finds it harder than it needs to be to know whether they are buying and/or drinking  "good wine."  

The problem lies with the approach.  As an amateur wine lover who managed to carve a career in the industry, I have had the “privilege” of attending numerous wine tastings.  These aforementioned "experts" are often the ones flying around from table to table, tasting as many different wines as possible, talking to nobody else, and scrambling to write all their notes as quickly as possible.  They seemingly pay very little attention to actually appreciating anything about the wine, what someone else might think of it, and definitely are not thinking of you, the consumer.

The result of this approach is that most of these “experts” will usually start their wine reviews by describing the physical characteristics of the wine and many other qualities when evaluating it, then conclude by offering an opinion as to whether THEY like it, as though you completely grasp where they're coming from.  Few will actually consider the simple question of whether YOU (i.e. anyone but them) will like it!  There is no attempt to consider the palate profile of the audience, the circumstances in which the wine will be consumed, or many other considerations that SHOULD, as discussed in a previous post, factor into what makes a good wine.

To me, this approach has always seemed really strange and probably explains why selecting wine is difficult and intimidating for the general consumer.  When I’m looking to buy a wine, I want to know whether I’m actually going to enjoy it with some reasonable degree of certainty.  If you’re anything like me, and the notes “has the nose of a wet fart, and drinks like cat piss (this is actually a compliment when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc)” are completely unhelpful in selecting your wine, then you probably get where I’m coming from.  What’s most ironic and absurd is that the wine “experts” will make you feel like you’re the stupid one for not embracing their idiotic perspective.  Truth be told, they are the idiots.  They are reviewing wines and have an absolute inability to practice any empathy for those who are supposed to be using their services.  Shouldn’t it matter whether you’re having an expensive, massive Cabernet with a beautiful, romantic steak dinner (or if that's something you even enjoy) vs. having something a touch lighter that you plan to drink more of on a Friday night with friends?  Of course it does.  You really think these weirdo, anti-social “experts” get that?  Of course they don’t.

Take it from us, and we mean it when we say this: what makes a good wine is whether you like it, period.  You should embrace the journey that is discovering your palate preferences, and which types of wine you will enjoy for different occasions.  You will have wine you love and wine you don’t care for.  Often times, you will dislike wine that others think highly of, and like wine that others do not care for.  That’s fine, and do not for one second take this to mean you don’t know what makes a good wine.  What's even more interesting is that your palate will change!  Embrace the journey, and remember that the bottom line is that you are perfectly capable of determining whether YOU like what you’re consuming, and that is the most fundamental consideration when it comes to defining what makes a good wine.


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