What makes a wine a good wine?

As the old and unattributed adage goes, life is too short to drink bad wine - but what makes a wine good or bad?
Balance Complexity Length.jpg

It is not simply a matter of taste. Personal preference in wine is very important but it is also very subjective. To assess whether a wine is good or not requires a more objective view and there are three main criteria that we look for (you may recognise a few words that pop up in Wines With Attitude's unique tasting notes).
  • First and foremost, quality wine should have balance - to be specific, a balance of acidity, sweetness, alcohol and tannins (in red and to some extent in rosé wines). All these components should be integrated and complement each other; none should be too obvious. A certain amount of acidity is good as it balances the sweetness of the grapes and gives the wine freshness; it can usually be felt on the sides of the tongue. Tannins help a good red wine to age and develop further; they should be smooth and integrated - or with the potential to soften as the wine ages in bottle. Too little and a wine can seem flat, too much will "fur up" the inside of your cheeks. Alcohol should be sufficient to give body but should not be overpowering; too much can catch the back of your throat.
  • Secondly look for complexity of flavour. If a wine is one-dimensional in taste e.g. it just tastes of blackcurrants and nothing else, it is not likely to be of good quality. The more aromas that you notice - and you may need to swirl the wine around your mouth and suck in some air to appreciate the full range of flavours - the better, be they different fruit flavours, nuts, coffee, honey, straw, flowers, petrol or spices...  WWA wine glass cropped with wide RHS.jpg
  • The third important feature is finish which is simply the length of time that the flavours of the wine remain in your mouth after swallowing. The taste of one-dimensional wines tends to fade very quickly.  As a general rule, the longer the finish, the better the wine.
A quality wine does not have to be very expensive but it really is worth moving away from entry-level wine as you have a much higher likelihood of finding a good quality wine above that level - only about £1.70 of a £7.50 bottle relates to the wine itself, the rest being made up of VAT, duties, packaging, transportation etc. At £15 that figure rises to about £6, so better bang for your buck.

Take the quality wine test and look out for balance, complexity and a long finish in your wines.  You will find that you enjoy your wines more.


© Wines With Attitude Limited, www.wineswithattitude.co.uk

Wines With Attitude.jpg

Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up Wines With Attitude to share that passion with other wine lovers.

Feeling sociable? Follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, Linked In and Pinterest or share my blog via the buttons below.

Sign up to my newsletter for notification of new wines, blog posts and subscriber-only sales.

Read More of the Latest News

Contact Us