What Makes Great Wine Great?

Those of us who drink wine on a daily basis (it's part of my job...I'm doing research!) don't think too much about the five elements of a "great wine" but rather just want to enjoy a glass or two of wine while making dinner and to enjoy with the meal. But every now and then, maybe when we've read about a special wine and we find it at the wine shop, or when dining at a restaurant that offers a distinctive selection of wine, we might want to take a moment to analyze that wine we purchase. Here is my guide for what makes great wine great:

  • Distinct varietal character: Each variety of grapes presents itself in a unique way. When a young wine that has been made from a single variety of grape presents its inherent grape aromas and flavors in a straightforward, clear, and focused way, it is said to have varietal character.

  • Integration: All components of a wine (acid, tannin, alcohol, fruit, sugar) are so impeccably interwoven that no one characteristic or component stands out.

  • Expressiveness: The quality a wine possesses when its aromas and flavors are well-defined and clearly projected.

  • Complexity: Not a thing but a phenomenon. A force that pulls you into a wine and impels you to repeatedly return for another smell and sip because each time you do, you find something new.

  • Connectedness: The most elusive of these concepts and the most difficult to ascertain. It is the sense you get from the wine's aromas and flavor that it could not have come from just anywhere but rather is the embodiment of a single piece of earth. Connectedness is the bond between a wine and the plot of land it was born in.

I don't think spending $75 for a bottle of wine is a guarantee of a great wine. I've had some great wines for under $20. Continue to read about wine, to visit your local wineries/wine shops and to enjoy wine!


Durella DeGrasse
Certified Wine Professional

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