There is no doubt that we have wondered about how to recognise a good wine or how to know if a wine is good more than once.
Inexperienced people usually pay attention to the price of the bottle, taking for granted that the higher the price, the better the quality. And, of course, that is not the common rule.
Another key point is the familiarity towards the brand, which may lead to appreciating wineries that are more known because they invest a higher amount in advertising.
At the end of this article, you will have a practical notion on how to distinguish a good wine.
“What wine drinkers must do is drinking what they like and enjoy without worrying about labels”. That is Ignacio de Miguel’s advice, one of the greatest wine experts in Spain.
We fully agree with this renowned oenologist. As a matter of fact, wine is a true experience on itself and, therefore, it is also very subjective.
We might know grape varieties, regions and wines we have liked, as well as recommendations of wineries and oenologists. That knowledge is valuable if no risks are intended, but not if we are willing to be surprised or aim at discovering something new in the wine world beyond the comfort zone.
If we analyse a wine, we can have a look at its visual attributes (for example, the straw-yellow colour of a good Albariño), its varietal, fermentative and ripening aromas or its mouth flavours; but, above all, experience is what should be taken into account. Aristotle used to say that nobody loves a wine unless it is pleasant and ‘the pleasant’ is a quality only describable from each person’s subjective point of view.
In the end, leaving things up to fate or to the liking of others is risky. The ideal thing would be building up our experience around wine little by little.
THE CONNOISSEURS’ OPINION
While we are pursuing our own knowledge, we can follow the experiences of others.
Many enjoy reading the opinions of oenologists, sommeliers and specialised journalists. In general, expert opinion becomes a definitive judgement on wine quality. But the palate of a renowned expert will not always match ours: everything is about sampling.
Trends and the reputation of wineries and critics also have an influence on the game of professional assessment. In this case, we depend on our suggestibility –or not– to the opinion of experts. Again, it is worth giving them a try although we do not have the same opinion because, indeed, there is no accounting for taste.
As a reference, we can share with you some renowned sources that might be of help:
Such websites as Guía Peñín provide a thorough manual portraying Spanish wines. Actually, it is a reference site in terms of searches by wine experts and enthusiasts.
If you are keen on technology, you can also use mobile applications as Vivino App.
WINE LABEL AND CHARACTERISTICS
We cannot forget about the most immediate source of information: the label.
It is true that the label has attractive elements as the design, the colours or a description aimed at awaking a sentimental feeling. Even the name might be suggestive and might urge us to the purchase.
Some include award identification (such as the prestigious Baco, Mundus Vini, Decante and Berliner awards). This does not mean that only the awarded wines are the good ones but they at least have the agreement of a jury about their quality.
In any case, we must pay attention to the features that allow appreciating the positive qualities that might make that wine stand out among others. The wine’s origin, the grape variety, the producer and the appellation are important aspects to have into account too.
There are a series of flavours or nuances that give us hints about the bad quality of a wine, such as sour flavours (in those wines that have undergone an incorrect ripening process), overripe fruit (if non-fresh grapes were used), cork (a quite common problem that leaves a taste of humidity) or oxides (when the oxygen has accidentally entered the bottle, thus ruining the wine’s aromas).
And on the contrary, there are some characteristics that define a wine’s quality:
It is the proportion of acidity, tannins, sweetness and alcohol content.
If none of these elements stands out, we will then be talking about a balanced wine. A trick to know if a wine is balanced? That it matches almost any meal.
Used in oenology, length is a term that describes the passing of wine through the palate, from the first touch with the tongue up to when it is swallowed.
A short wine makes an impact at the beginning but it soon loses intensity. Therefore, a good wine will need to have a decent length.
A deep wine seems to have several flavour layers. If it is not flat, we will therefore notice the elements that balance the wine.
The main characteristic of a complex wine is that it tells us different things every time we drink it, with new nuances and aromas. These wines are considered to have a greater quality.
When a wine shows an original and personal feature, it is considered to be a wine with character. It is usually bound to its origin: the terroir, the climate… That is what makes it unique.
And talking about a good wine, it is needless to say that at Camino de Cabras, we produce great Galician wines with the best grapes from our Atlantic side (under the Rías Baixas and Valdeorras appellations). We invite you to discover our wines, follow this short guide and enjoy.