After reading an article about a lot of vintage Lafite ranging from 1799 to 2003 selling at action for US$302,250 in Hong Kong – it made me think about what is supposed to be classified as ‘fine wine’. Where exactly is the line drawn? Is it a price category thing or perhaps based on wine scores? And for those people who do spend this kind of money, is it really liquid gold to their palates?
So being a true believer in ‘you can google anything and everything’ I put those 2 words into the search engine and this is what I came up with;
Miimi.hu: “The term ‘fine wine’ is definitely one that is more subjective than objective, and actually more focused on price than any other factor. Fine wines are often vinified in smaller lots than are tables wines produced for mass consumption. Thus, the fine wine producer works with smaller batches of grapes and processes and ages them in smaller fermentation, storage, and aging vessels”
Just-drinks.com: “Wine connoisseurs would not describe anything below GBP30 as fine wine”
Snooth.com: “Fine wine, what does that mean? It’s a nebulous concept, defining fine wine, and one that by definition is very subjective. The definition of fine after all is, more or less, “of superior or best quality” buy that persons measure”.
Of course this is only brushing the surface of all definitions out there but basically the general consensus is that fine wine equates to a higher price tag – which is not necessarily a negative thing as you have to think why was that wine priced highly. Perhaps it’s due to its rarity or the care that was taken to make it.
I have long believed that wine is a very personal thing; everyone’s taste buds are different and just because someone like Robert Parker thinks X wine is the greatest in the world doesn’t mean I will. So for me in classifying a wine as ‘fine’ I base my opinion on these concepts;
Complexity: On the nose and palate – these are the wines that have so many facets which keeping evolving as you slowly get through the glass (or in my case the bottle!).They are the type of wines that you could sit for hours with just your nose in the glass, before even taking the first sip.
Length: It needs to linger on the palate, leaving you with that feeling that you need to go back for more… like all good things.
Balance: No component of the wine should be too overpowering, for instance too acidic – too alcoholic – too tannic, etc. Even a full-bodied tannic wine in youth should be balanced to a certain degree.
At the end of the day it comes down to what you like and doing your research before you put your hard-earned money into a bottle of plonk – looking past the ‘fine’ marketing.