They say, never judge a book by it’s cover. The same can be said about wine. I have one criteria that I use to judge a good wine and that is how good is it to drink? Beverage quality and safety is not a science known only to the big wine producers.
I have bought so many expensive wines only to be completely and utterly disappointed that now I have absolutely no inhibitions about buying wine for one tenth of the price. Some small and quite obscure winerys are making very superior wines for a fraction of the price that you would pay for a Chateau Rothschild, for instance. To find good cheaper wines I make a habit of going to my favorite wine merchants on days when he is having a wine tasting open day and make a point of tasting a good few of the cheaper wines as well as the more expensice ones. A good merchant, if he knows that you have an open mind, will give you tips about “little gems” he has found. To be honest, usually it is enough to see the wine against the light to know it’s quality
Generally speaking, about one third of the wines are not worth a second thought. One third are about the standard that you might expect from a three star restaurant and one third are really worth drinking. On deciding which wines I really like, I buy about two or three crates of assorted wines ranging from cabernet sauvignon to beaujolais. I try do this about every couple of months.
I never let my dinner guests know that they are drinking bargain basement choices because all wine at my table is decantered. All that they ever know is that they are drinking a wine that is well worth drinking. It also gives me a sense of pride to know that I am helping lesser vineyards to raise their heads and take their true place among the established vineyards as truly good wine making professionals. The condition for this is that they continue to produce wines of a superior standard at competitive prices.
Some say that there is a lot of snobbery around the subject of wine drinking. I tend to agree with that to a degree because people who pay great sums for their wine, often have little or no idea of the wine making process. I have, in the past, tasted really expensive wines to which hydrochloric acid has been added in an attempt to cover up faults in the fermentation process. To those who know about wine, that is one of the most grievous cardinal sins possible to commit. Hydrochloric acid, when diluted to a concentration of five percent is synthetic vinegar. I don’t know about you but I most certainly do not want vinegar in my wine.
Adding hydrochloric acid is a technique that is sometimes used by winemakers who have fouled up the natural acid balance within the wine. By adding hydrochloric acid they are able to cover their mistakes to some degree and hopefully, those who are not experts in wine tasting will never know the difference.
If vineyards are faced with the eventuality of selling the majority of their years production as red wine vinegar they are tempted to use such inferior tactics. So, beware. It’s well worth Joining a good wine tasting course so that you’ll know the difference between good and bad wine and indeed, learn how to enjoy your wine much more.
Part of making really great wine has to do with maintaining correct hygiene conditions. We should always remember that the wine making process uses the yeast which is a naturally occuring micro-organism which grows on the skin of the grape. During the fermentation process the grape juice can pick up many forms of cross contamination in the form of various types of bacteria or undesirable forms of fungus which, if not prevent from entering the grape juice, will spoil or reduce the quality of the final wine. Cross contamination may well be the main cause of wine spoilage. All wineries are susceptible to contamination precicely for the reason that they are processing a product which comes straight out of a fiels where it has been exposes to the surrounding environment for many months.
So, the message is that there is no absolute connection between the drinkability of wine and price. You will find many, many excellent wines from non label wine makers. Take a little time to discover those you like, enjoy the thrill of discovering priceless gems in the most unexpected places and save yourself a whole lot of money at the same time.