Category Archives: What Makes a Good Wine?

Answering the questions: What Makes a Good Wine?

Can you tell the difference between red and white wine?

My grandpa always tells a story about wine that blows people away. I’m going to try to retell it here. It won’t be as good as when he tells it, but you probably haven’t heard it from him so you won’t know. If you have heard it, you can stop reading here.

Elena and Grandpa

Grandpa and me in Paris

Grandpa was at a dinner party years ago with a group of friends or colleagues or something. Most of the people there considered themselves knowledgable about wine. The host decided to do a little test. He blindfolded everyone and handed them a glass of wine. Every glass was the same size and each drink was room temperature. He asked the guests to determine if the glass they were drinking was red wine or white wine. Everyone laughed. How obvious. No one could possibly get that wrong, even without the tells of glass size and wine temperature. But they were wrong, oh how wrong! I forget how many exactly, but a huge portion of the party couldn’t tell if their wine was red or white. It should be noted that this was really high-quality wine so the differences are more subtle, but still, isn’t that incredible?

Stay tuned for my own version of this experiment!

In the meantime, here’s a picture of Tala trying to determine if this Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Grigio has floral or fruity notes.

Tala and Wine

Tala says “floral” but she prefers “rodent”




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What Makes a Good Wine? (And my goals to find out!)

Years ago my grandparents had the basement storage unit in their Paris apartment broken into. It was filled only with bottles of wine (as I like to imagine all Parisian storage units are) and the thief stole all of them except for the few less expensive bottles that he or she left in the middle of the room as if to say, “I know good wine”.

But what makes wine “good”?

I know what I consider good glass of wine (and at this point I base that on two very broad things: taste and price), but give that same glass to some of my more discerning friends and family members and I’m sure they’d disagree. I hope to answer this question eventually, but for now it seems wholly subjective. When I have more of a knowledge base and  vocabulary I will better be able to tackle the concept of quality in wines and pinpoint what aspects of a glass make it better or worse.

My goal in the next couple of months is to learn how to intelligently taste a wine, describe its attributes and identify what makes a wine “good”(at least according to the experts). On the weekend of December 1st I will host my own wine tasting for friends to demonstrate what I’ve learned. 

wine in Paris

Bottles of wine at my grandparent’s house

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Filed under Beginner's Guide, What Makes a Good Wine?