During my 27 years of experience tasting wines, a question always comes up, which is the best wine? The most expensive? The most prestigious? And the truth is that it all comes down to the famous phrase,“the best wine is the one you like the most.”
However, that does not solve the dilemma. Several characteristics can help differentiate and distinguish wines from others, and by defining these, we can find that indeed some wines are superior. But if we consider that everything is a matter of taste, the discussion on the subject can get quite long. In these years of experience, I was able to notice a variable that remains constant and is a common denominator that is present in every wine-drinking experience.
This variable is a great guide to determine the quality of wine regardless of the price, strain, or provenance.The palate factor, as I like to call it, is important when it comes to identifying the quality of any wine. This factor measures the experience of the palate and classifies wine quality into four areas.
To classify the wine, we must measure the palate experience (flavors, body, tannins, acidity, etc.) by keeping the wine in the mouth for 10 to 15 seconds and stirring it all over the palate, just as a professional taster does, and then swallowing the wine at the end of the tasting. This experience will result in 1 of 4 possibilities:
1. The Tip
This is the most basic and lowest area in the quality rating of a wine. Normally you can taste this in table wines and mass-produced wines that have not undergone aging processes and are usually very low-priced. However, they also appear in elaborated and medium/high-priced wines.
After having tasted the wine in this range, the taste of the flavors and aromas that remain inside the palate, end abruptly at the tip of the tongue. That is, the stimulation of the taste buds stops in the first quarter of the tongue and that’s where the sensory experience ends.
This experience defines moderately good wines. Most times there is a relationship with the average price as well, but this is found in a large majority of wines of all prices and production processes. What you should do here is rate the wine average.
This range, as its name implies, occurs when the tasting experience ends right in the middle of the tongue. All the messages that the taste buds emit are left halfway and identified in the middle of the tongue.
3. Until the end
This level qualifies good and excellent wines. Again, we can find a relationship with the price, sometimes higher or significantly higher than the average. However, I have had many medium and low-priced wines that brought this experience and rating.
At this level, the sensory experience finishes at the end of the palate. The flavors and aromas of the wine are distinguished and enjoyed throughout the palate. Here one already notices that practically all the taste buds have been stimulated. One can clearly remember the aromas and flavors that carried with them that wonderful wine flavor.
Reaching this level doesn’t happen frequently, but when it does, it is a rewarding experience. Even more so when it happens with a bottle of wine that costs less than $20.
4. To infinity and beyond
This is the classification that is given to wines that are superior and surprising. I have found it in very few wines. Unfortunately, there is a direct relationship between the wine and its price. The wines with this classification do have a price higher than $80 (even so, not all end up being superior) and only a few times in wines with a price lower than $80.
Here the experience not only goes to the end of the palate. It goes down the throat and continues until exhalation after having swallowed the remarkable wine. Not only are all the taste buds stimulated, it is as if you can continue to savor the wine after drinking it, but the exhalation brings with it all the delicious aromas and flavors that were identified at the beginning of the tasting process. This long aftertaste lingers for a couple of minutes and puts you in the ecstasy of enjoyment.
With these four classifications, I have been able to easily determine the quality of wines and to assess them without the price being an influencing factor. You have to taste the wine to give the final verdict.
As a wine enthusiast, this is not a problem for me. The most thrilling part of this experience is when I find a wine at a reasonable price, that is within the classification 3 and 4. Of course, of those wines, there is always stock in the cellar.
Stay safe and don’t forget to enjoy your favorite wines, Cheers!
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