Tell me: What makes a wine “Great”?

I had a great discussion with Joe Bastianich a while back and I ased him what he thought made for a Great Wine.

We weren’t talking about the “great bottle of Pinot Grigio” that we had once… That just means “I really enjoyed that bottle of Pinot Grigio.”

I’m talking about “The Great Wines of the World”… that kind of great. Something somehow beyond subjectivity, if that’s possible.

Joe gave me a lovely and very well-thought-out response. It was more than I expected it to be, and it resonated so much with me that I have adopted it as MY definition of Great Wine. I will share it here when I’ve gotten a few responses…

SO HERE IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION: Tell me, What makes a wine “Great”? I really need your comments and feedback below…

Give it to me!


4 thoughts on “Tell me: What makes a wine “Great”?

  1. Renee Vimmerstedt

    There are few tangible but many appreciable facets to wine. If you take into consideration these facets, the grapes used, fermentation processes, ageing, it still all comes down to individual tastes. There are many good wines…wines that I know I would like to drink again. What makes a great ( I prefer the word exceptional) wine for me is the one that I am compelled to drink again. I can think of a wine that I had only one glass of 17 years ago. I still crave that wine, can still taste the fruit and the tar. Talk about a persistent finish!

  2. Paul

    I could be slightly generic and say, “wine that speaks of a place, a history, a people, is a great wine,” and this is true. But for me, a great wine should be a challenge, something that shatters preconceived notions. Serving wine in Joe and Mario’s restaurants for five years, I have gotten very used to opening Baroli, Brunelli, IGT Toscana, Soave, you name it. But, there are very few times when I have to take a step back from what I’m doing and just let my mind wander with a wine. The few months back, I opened a Quintarelli, had this experience and last week opening a Rinaldi Le Coste-Brunate 2001, and a Mastroberardino Radici Riserva 1999. Maybe you call that a wine of meditation, but it is simply a wine that surprises me, and liberates me from my routine restaurant service. It is a great wine, when it helps me remember why I chose the field I’m in today.

  3. Renee Vimmerstedt

    This is in response to Paul’s comment. I had a bottle of the 1999 Mastroberardino Radici Riserva last Nov. I had a similar experience. For about 10 minutes I was just speechless. My mind wandered away from the dinner conversation. I cannot even tell you what I was thinking about but I was happy. My dinner companions finally got my attention and asked what I was smiling about. It wowed me and evoked a very emotional response. That is indeed a great wine.


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