Having great wine is one of life’s joys. To some people, no matter how much they love wine, they can’t appreciate it unless it’s good. Wine is an elixir of ecstasy, no matter what type or brand you drink. Many people will never touch cheap wine again, but the same can be said for expensive wine.
As with any type of drinking, you need to know what makes a great wine. What’s a good, classic bottle of wine that keeps coming back? Many people think of good food and great food as being synonymous, but this isn’t always the case. Just because a meal or even a snack is flavorful to you doesn’t mean it’s going to taste great to someone else. In an attempt to understand this and answer other questions about great wine and why it matters, want to describe what great wine is to me, and what seek I look for in a good wine, both in a store and online. This should give you a starting point to start learning more about wine.
The terrain is the result of geography. Terroir is simply the name given to a specific region where a particular wine is made. If you go to a vineyard in the Loire Valley, you’re looking at a grape that is from that specific region. The wine maker needs to use that grape in order to make that wine. In order to create a great wine from this region, you must drink it from the same barrels that produced it. It’s a unique process but one that can produce a variety of great wine from any vintage.
Grape varieties play a big role in producing great wine. Some grape varieties excel at making versatile wines that go great with a variety of food and beverage options. Others have very specific characteristics that make only certain dishes work for them. Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, pairs well with dishes with strong flavors like meat or heavy cream sauces.
Another characteristic of great wine is how the grapes are grown. When a grape is not able to be grown in the chosen area, it dies off. However, there are new hybrid varieties that have been created when a variety of grape types are used. These wines are known as “crosses”. They can still taste very similar to each other despite being grown in different locations.
The soil in an area affects the production of wines. Wineries in California, France, and Chile all use soil that has a specific pH level to help make their wines taste their best. Winemakers also adjust the amount of fertilizer and water, they give their grapes according to the soil’s characteristics. They may supplement it with organic products to help improve its nutritional needs. California vineyards are noted for their rich soils, which allow for plenty of creativity when it comes to great wine values.
Lastly, no winemaking process is complete without the use of a good wine cork. A corkscrew works to manipulate the corks to open and seal tightly, allowing for maximum flavor and texture of a wine. Some winemakers simply apply pressure on the corks using a stick to encourage them to open, but this can leave tiny holes in the wine that will never completely close. Good wine corking creates a secure seal that will allow the wine to sit on the shelf for years to come. Coupled with a properly aged cork, this makes for a truly great wine.
As noted above, both tannins and acidity play a part in the taste of a wine. Acidity is often considered to be in bad taste, while tannin is thought to add a bitter or salty taste to certain wines. Each type has its own unique characteristics. Tannin is most commonly found in red wines, while acidity can be found in white wines. While the amount of tannin and acidity each wine will have will vary depending on the grape that was used to make the wine, both should be considered as important factors in the overall taste of a fine wine. If you’re having difficulty identifying the characteristics of your wine based solely on drinking it, take a sample with you and have someone analyze it.