Identify Fine Wine: Great Taste is Priceless
Though you may have been drinking wine for a few years, trying different brands, styles, and flavors, you've probably always stuck around the same price range, typically no more than $15 a bottle. After all, you can easily purchase a well rounded, tasteful wine at such a reasonable price, right? Well, we thought so, too, in our little corner of the world. We'd always enjoyed our favorites, but we'd never branched out, until the day one of us came home with a $30 bottle of Cabernet from Sonoma Valley, California vinted in 2006.
You're probably thinking, "What's the big deal? Sonoma Valley is known for their wineries, but $30 is a bit too pricey for my budget." What you don't realize is, that ten year old bottle held us in captivation before we even popped the cork. Yes, it was a little nerve wracking to pay so much for a bottle we intended to drink right away, yet there we were, as firm and resolute in the decision to drink this gem as when it was paid for mere hours earlier. We carefully uncorked the wine and poured two deep purple glasses, reveling in the way the dark liquid grabbed onto the glass before settling in on itself, seemingly with a life of its own. When we smelled the aromas of chocolate, oak, and black currants, we had to have a sip. The velvety smoothness enveloped our tongues, playing a melody with no one flavor overpowering another, all working together to create this breathtaking masterpiece. With a finish as smooth and harmonious as the beginning, we were hooked, convinced we had finally found a "fine" wine.
"Fine" is such a subjective term, relying entirely on each person's perspective, preferences, and tastes. Without a clear definition, or a little schooling, it can be hard to differentiate between an average run of the mill wine and a truly spectacular bottle. So what exactly made that $30 bottle so brilliant, breathtaking, and a perfect masterpiece? It had the balance, body, finish, and time in the bottle needed to achieve a work of art.
When sipping wine, no one wants to taste battery acid or be overwhelmed by any one note. Drinking a wonderful wine, a "fine" wine, should be like listening to an orchestra. Just as each instrument must play its role, never drowning out or fading away completely, so much each unique flavor. The notes should be striking, maybe a bit of a cacophony at times, but always resonating and playing off of each other. A "fine" wine will never be overly sweet and heavy, but at the same time, it shouldn't be extremely dry, bitter, or light. As if walking a tightrope, a truly amazing wine will astound you with its myriad of tastes while never becoming watery or bland.
The body, palate, or intensity is just as important as the balance in a "fine" wine. Yes, an astounding glass should be well-rounded, using acidity, fruitiness, and tannins to create a complex taste profile, but this should be evident from the start. With a gentle swirl of the glass and a slight sniff, an expert can tell exactly how "fine" the wine is. Fuller bodied wines will stick to the glass slightly, seeming to pull on themselves, and after some decanting, paint a picture of what the wine will taste like with only a whiff.
Just like any quality alcohol, wine should never, ever, ever leave a jet fuel like burn. A slight warming sensation is acceptable, but the tastes, the notes, should still be present. Almost like the after image from staring at the sun for too long, a "fine" wine will not let you forget just how delectable it is. It will linger, leaving the anticipation of the next sip.
Time in the Bottle
Not all alcohol grows better with age, but wine typically does. A bottle stored properly that is over ten years old is more likely to tantalize your taste buds than one that was only bottled a year ago. Given a few years, a "fine" wine's individual notes tend to blend together creating a more unified harmony as opposed to a full frontal assault which most "cheap" wines offer. That's not to say age is for every variety or that a "fine" wine won't be captivating when tasted at their vintage. A truly "fine" wine will pull together, sing its song across one's palate, and tease each sense leaving one begging for more. We finished our first bottle of "fine" wine that night, enjoying the music each drop left.
If you want to begin your own search for a "fine" wine, check out Vino Fine Wine and Spirits. With their online selection that grows daily and amazing customer service, you're sure to find the perfect bottle that will sing harmonies across your taste buds. So what are you waiting for? Grab a glass and start on your own musical tasting journey today.
- Adam Linet