What makes a wine GOOD?
Is it a high score from a critic?
Is it a technically well made wine (proper balance of tannins, alcohol, acid, fruit, etc.)?
Is it a wine with a nice mouth feel?
OR, is it simply a wine that YOU like?
OBVIOUSLY, this is a loaded question. I think presented with this question in a comparable multiple choice format, 99 out of 100 people would say – well of course it is a wine that YOU like.
But I am raising the question as i wonder if this is a question many winemakers & wine consumers need to really examine.
With regards to consumers, this question is both complicated and straight forward. Complicated in that I don’t think too many people would admit that they buy wine based on price or scores, but it is a sad reality. Wine consumers have SOOO many choices, how does one narrow those choices down? Start by eliminating wines out of your price range (too high) or whose price tags lead you to believe they can not be any good (too low).
You can then narrow it down by deciding between red or white, eliminating wines from countries you might not be interested in (DO NOT eliminate Israeli wines) or whose labels you don’t like (silly but frequently done). Skip wines made from varietals (grapes) you are not interested in (or are out of fashion ie. Merlot), or a host of other reasons that make sense to you. Easy right? Well, you probably still have several thousand wines left to choose from. OK, I’ve gotten a bit carried away, especially since this was not the intended direction of this post. And while any method you choose in picking a wine is right, I’ll simply say that while variety is nice, I would recommend tasting wines and finding ones YOU LIKE. One of the best ways of doing this is attending wine tastings and going to Wine bars to find wines, styles & wine producing countries you like.
As to where I INTENDED to go with this email…the wineries and their respective winemakers.
I completely understand that as idealistic as it would be to have a winemaker who makes wine THEY like as opposed to one they can sell, that winemaker might find them self out of business very quickly. Obviously they have to make a wine they can sell.
OK, then what? Do you make a “Parker Wine” (a wine made in a style known to be preferred by influential wine critic Robert Parker)? Do you make a “Lab Wine” (one whose PH, TA & other technical aspects are all where they “should” be)? Do you make a wine you think you’ll be able to sell? Do you make a wine YOU like? Or do you make a wine you think your peers will like?
This is a question I won’t even attempt to answer. But I raise it having recently read about a winemaker in California who admitted to falling into the Parker trap. He was making a very ripe, heavily extracted, high alcohol wine. And he found himself getting high scores, selling a lot of wine, and shopping a lot for OTHER PEOPLE’S WINES. He has since declared that he is getting back to making wines he can enjoy that are to be lower in alcohol & less ripe. I wish him a lot of success. While I think that his “Anti-conformist” attitude might help to initially garner some loyal customers, in the long run a lower score might hurt overall sales.
I feel like I opened up a big can of smelly worms and am now walking away… I’m sorry – I’m tired and have football on my mind. I know I resolved nothing here. I suppose just some topics to ponder and revisit in future posts. Or maybe I reintroduced something for both consumers & winemakers to think about…and maybe they should each ALSO consider what the other thinks about when either making or purchasing wine.
Have a great week everybody. And drink whatever BLEEPIN wine you want to drink!