November 18, 2017

How to Identify a Good Wine

There is an age old argument that expensive wine is always better than cheap wine. Well, there is no proof that expensive wine is better than cheap wine. Instead of judging wine on how much it costs, you should be identifying whether it is good quality or not from other features and factors. It is known that smelling, swirling, and sipping wine are general rules of thumb when determining whether or not a wine is good quality, but there are other expert tips on how to identify a good wine.

1.) Read the back label


We were all taught to not judge a book by its cover, so why should we judge a wine by its front label? Instead of making a judgement and moving on by a wine’s front label, check out the back. The back label will have important information, such as where the wine came from, what flavors it has, and how it was aged. If the wine won a reward or recognition, it will also be on the back label. If you’re unsure about the information that a wine’s back label has, don’t be afraid to ask for help or an opinion from an employee or a friend.

2.) Swirl and smell

Remember the rules of thumb of how to identify a good wine we touched on before? This is when they are useful. Legs, when wine tasting, is known as skinny lines of liquid that run down the glass after you drink it. When swirling the wine you should see the legs from the wine. While the quality of the legs has little information about the quality of the wine, it will help you determine how much alcohol is in the wine. As for smelling, it can help you determine what a wine will taste like. The sense of smell helps us determine which foods we like and which foods we don’t. Typically, we wouldn’t eat something that smells bad. So, would you drink a wine that smelled bad?

3.) Use your taste buds


After examining the bottle and swirling and smelling the wine, give it a go and taste the wine. Interpret and examine what you just tasted. What is the overall flavor? Are there any underlying tones? You know you have found a balanced and high quality wine when there are various long lasting flavors.

4.) Research

If you want to become an expert at distinguishing between good quality and bad quality wines, do some research. Research which years and types of wines are vintage and regarded as the highest quality. It’s also important to learn about grapes and how they are harvested. Since grapes are harvested in a variety of regions and climates, each type of grape has a different taste. This influences what the wine will taste like, and the overall quality.

5.) Know what your preferences


While wine enthusiasts are always encouraged to explore various types of wine, they should know their wine preferences. It’s important to determine what kind of wine you like, and what you generally look for in a wine. It’s also important to realize that it’s okay to like a wine that may be deemed as a bad quality wine. After all, taste differs among person to person. So, what may taste phenomenal to you, could taste awful to the person next to you.



Dave Anderson is a venture capitalist and wine connoisseur in San Francisco.