As a certified sommelier, I wanted to write this post to share my thoughts on a good vs. great wine. What is the difference between a good and great wine? If you're drinking a great wine throughout the night, chances are you'll be spending the whole night talking about it. For every one great wine that you try, there will be dozens of mediocre to good ones. Good, simple wines should be relaxing to drink and not too demanding of our attention. Great wines, on the other hand, call for drinkers to notice and actually speak more about the wine other than "it's good" and carry on their conversation.
Just like everything else in life, there is a time to indulge in good or great food and wine. We recently joined the Poplar Grove wine club and these wines are perfect for casual nights in. However, when we really want to celebrate something special, we usually have Champagne, an older Italian wine or a classic wine from Bordeaux.
If you're not quite sure if it's a good or great wine, don't stress. You will learn to tell the difference with time. To start practicing, the next time you're enjoying a glass, sip slowly and register what kind of flavours you're tasting instead of gulping it down. Here are three major factors when determining the difference:
Complexity: The more intense the wine is, the more you will be able to identify the flavours. There will be distinct flavour characteristics and more mature notes including tobacco, leather or stewed dark cherries. The more of these flavours you can taste, the more complex the wine, and the higher the quality.
Intensity: A great wine has very complex flavours, but they're still very clear to decipher.
Balance: Balance is the optimal equation of various flavours. It's the perfect balance of oak, vegetal, fruit, alcohol and earthiness. Younger wines will have more fresh, vibrant flavours of fruit that will take over the palette.
My advice to all you fellow wine lovers is to stock up on LCBO favourites for those precious relaxing moments at the end of a busy week. These are perfectly good wines (some borderline great) to ease your way into catching up with friends or simply cuddling up watching Netflix.
However, don't shy away from investing in your cellar for special occasions down the road. There's nothing like opening a bottle of wine that you've been properly storing for several years to toast to a great moment in life.