A deeper dive into the term “fine wine”

“Fine wine” is a term that is often used to describe wine of exceptional quality. While many people use the term interchangeably with expensive wine, the reality is that a fine wine is not necessarily a wine that is expensive. Instead, it is a wine that has been carefully crafted by a skilled winemaker, using the best possible grapes and following a precise winemaking process.

One of the key factors that distinguish fine wines from ordinary wines is the quality of the grapes used. Fine wines are typically made from grapes that are grown in specific regions known for producing high-quality fruit, such as the Napa Valley in California, Bordeaux in France, or Tuscany in Italy. These regions are often characterized by a unique combination of soil, climate, and topography that make them ideal for growing certain grape varieties.

Once the grapes have been harvested, they are carefully sorted and processed to remove any impurities or damaged fruit. The grapes are then crushed and fermented, a process that can take several weeks or even months to complete. During this time, the winemaker carefully monitors the temperature and acidity levels to ensure that the wine develops the desired flavor and aroma profile.

After fermentation is complete, the wine is aged in oak barrels for a period of time that can range from a few months to several years, depending on the style of wine being produced. This aging process allows the wine to develop additional complexity and depth of flavor, as well as a smoother and more refined texture.

The result of this careful attention to detail is a wine that is rich, complex, and nuanced, with a depth of flavor that sets it apart from ordinary wines. Fine wines are often described as having a balance of fruit, acidity, and tannins, with a long and lingering finish that leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

While fine wines can be quite expensive, they are not necessarily out of reach for the average wine enthusiast. There are many excellent wines that are available at more affordable price points, particularly from regions such as South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, many winemakers produce limited-edition or special reserve wines that are only available in small quantities, making them more exclusive and highly sought after.

It could all be marketing to ensure a high profit return on a less than average year. Example: let’s say a load of grapes arrives at the winery and something went wrong that year so there’s way less yield than normal. Meaning, you will be making less wine out of those grapes. This has created a scarcity, so some might use that to create a high demand. They won’t tell you they had a slightly less than average crop, but they will tell you they “made a limited amount this vintage! Get yours while you still can!” 

Or let’s look at an example from pop culture: who has seen season 3 of Emily in Paris? Yes…I do watch that show! It’s a lovely binge day for myself where I can relax, not think too hard, and run commentary on fashion choices while I lounge in 2-day old sweatpants and a messy bun! (did I just admit to binge watching an entire season of Emily in Paris in a single day?) I DIGRESS! If you have seen season 3, think of the whole Lavender-party-perfume-”fiasco”at Antoine’s. Create demand by marketing it as “exclusive!” Or in our case, “fine”.

All that being said, the term “fine wine” is quite subjective. Yes, there are a few factors that are categorically accepted as making a wine fine…the careful selection of grapes, the painstakingly precise winemaking methods used, the reputation of the winery and/or winemaker. However, everyone’s palate is different. So just because a wine is labeled “fine” or “exceptional” doesn’t mean every palate trying it will agree it’s exceptional. If you come across a wine that you love drinking, and elevates whatever moment you’re enjoying it in, then I’d say you’ve found yourself an exceptionally fine wine!

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