Wine Pages

Mike Steinberger's Wine Diarist


Identifying Wines of "Quality"

First things first, there's delicious, top quality wine at all price points. That means that whatever your budget, you can find a wine that doesn't completely suck. 

That's right... for as little as a few dollars, there are wines available on the market that perform every task a quality wine needs to: they have pleasant and enjoyable flavors and have a balance of attributes between fruit, alcohol, and acid.

The fact is, if you are overwhelmed by the prospect of hunting down a wine of quality, the remedy lies in a bottle of simple, mass market supermarket wine. These kinds of wine, while rarely distinctive, are created to appeal to a broad market, and that's their primary mission.

Now we've established that a wine with a "cheap" price may not be "cheap" in quality... but did you know it's possible to have a wine that's high in price be low in quality? Yup, it happens all the time. And so too will you find inexpensive bad wine and expensive good wines. The point is that price and quality really have very little to do with one another when it comes to wine.

Are you ready to learn the secret to finding wines that you'll enjoy and are within your budget? Okay, here we go:

Step One: 
Find sources you trust to inform your buying decision. Reviews from international wine publications or recommendations from wine professionals based on their understanding of your personal preferences are examples of good sources. Advertising and cute labels are probably not.

Step Two:
Buy a few wines based on the above. If you are buying several at one time, try going for diversity to you have the opportunity to try a number of different grape varieties or wines from different regions over a week or two.

Step Three:
This may be the most important step of all... pay attention to what you like, what you don't like, and why. If you loved the dark fruit flavor of one wine or the vibrant acidity in another, make note of that. If you loved drinking a wine on its own, but found it less appealing with food, think about why that was the case.

Step Four:
Use the powerful new knowledge you've gained in step number three to find and buy wines that are of a quality and at a price that meets your standards. 

There are hundreds of thousands of wines released each and every year (maybe more), and it's impossible to be able to try them all in one lifetime... but knowing what appeals to you, and what doesn't will open up a whole world of exploration and tasting opportunities.