In an article published online by Food & Wine, writer Lettie Teague delves into the conundrum of “good” versus “great” wines, a subject that clinical neuropsychologist Wilfred Van Gorp, PhD, also finds fascinating. Here, Dr. Van Gorp offers his perspective on a topic that will intrigue oenophiles everywhere.
For the wine connoisseur in search of perfection, or at least the closest thing to it, the acquisition of a deliciously drinkable bottle could certainly qualify as work, albeit work of the most pleasurable nature. Due to a worldwide glut of growers and producers, as well as recent technological and scientific advancements that have asserted a noteworthy influence on viticulture practices, one can easily find a decent selection of reds and whites for less than $25. The characteristics that separate a good wine from a great wine are debatable, but most oenophiles would agree that balance and structure each play considerable roles in this qualitative form of comparison.
When wine enthusiasts speak about balance, they usually reference proportions of fruit to tannin, with elements like acidity, minerality, and terroir also coming up in conversation. Categorizing a great wine, however, tends to become slightly more complex, as judgment standards hinge heavily on several key factors. The status of a winemaker, expert opinion on whether a particular vintage went from vine to barrel or bottle during an exceptional harvest season, and the price of the wine itself all contribute to reputation.