When you hear the words fine wine, several things might come to mind. Fine wines are featured on wine lists in the most extravagant fine dining restaurants. Sometimes, they are hidden away in a fancy wine cellar. Rare bottles and really old vintages come to mind, and, of course, an expensive price tag is a reoccurring thought.
While fine wine is all these things, it is also so much more than that. Read on to discover more about the fascinating world of fine wines.
What Is Fine Wine?
Let’s get into the topic of what is considered fine wine. It is key to note that what a fine wine is can be quite subjective depending on the wine drinker. What qualifies as fine wine changes with the tastes of each consumer. Some may contend that fine wines can only be from Western Europe and other select locations. Others may consider a great bottle of wine from a grocery store shelf to be a fine wine. Keep in mind that price tags and wine labels may not be everything!
However, it is fair to say that fine wine should follow certain criteria. There should be some provenance of where it comes from, not only the winery, but also the region. There should be a high level of quality control and care put into growing the grapes. The wine should be well balanced and well made. Lastly, the wine should have some age worthiness, but this is not essential. Let’s take a deeper look into each of these aspects.
Where Do Fine Wines Come From?
Many think that fine wine only comes from certain countries in Europe or Napa Valley. There are many wines that come from those places that warrant a place on your wine rack and stowed away to be enjoyed years later. Think of some of the most renowned regions across Europe; Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône Valley, Champagne, Tuscany, Piedmont, Rioja and the like. All of these regions produce wines that many would call “everyday wines,” something that you can open up and enjoy in the moment. But within each of these regions are real gems that produce some of the finest wines.
Take for instance, the L’Epiphanie Saint Emilion Grand Cru. This is a red wine from the Bordeaux region of France. The appellation Saint Emilion lies in the eastern side of the region. The wine is given the designation of Grand Cru due to its high regulations for growing and winemaking, along with the quality it possesses.
Rioja, Spain is another region to take note of. Many wine drinkers have had a Rioja, a dry red wine made from the Tempranillo grape. Most have had a Joven or Crianza, some of the younger aged wines that are made for immediate consumption. But have you tried a Gran Reserva Rioja?
The Pagos de Tahola Gran Reserva from the Chavarri Family is another noteworthy example of a Fine Wine. This is a 100% Tempranillo wine from Rioja, Spain. Picked from select vineyards and aged for over 5 years. The winery aged the wine for you so that you can drink it as soon as you purchase the wine. However because of various factors including the quality of the wine, this bottle is another candidate for your cellar.
Lastly in Europe, we have Italy. Montalcino is a small town in the region of Tuscany. Known for growing fine examples of Sangiovese (but goes by the name Brunello). The Luciani Brunello di Montalcino is a wine that should be added to your cellar right now! Required to age for 5 years, this is another style of wine that can cellar well. Brunellos are a top red wine in Montalcino and can easily compete with the finest Chiantis and Super Tuscan Blends.
European wine labels can be quite difficult to navigate if you do not have much experience with them. Here are some key tips to use while you’re shopping:
- Look for a country on the label.
- Is there a region listed?
- Is there a sub-region?
- Is there some kind of designation? For example: Grand Cru, Gran Reserva, etc.
These questions can help you deduce whether the wine could be worthwhile to cellar and hold a place in your fine wine collection.
If we go to the other side of the wine world, we do have many fine wines coming out of the west coast from regions like Columbia Valley, Willamette Valley, Sonoma, and of course Napa Valley. Unlike European wine labels, many wines in the United States will say the grape name. But these labels will not have classifications like a Bordeaux or Burgundy, so you have to rely on where it is from and the producer.
The Illustrious Reserve Red Blend is an outstanding blend that can cellar for many years to come. It is from Napa Valley, which is a noteworthy region. The grapes for this wine are picked from Mount Veeder. Mount Veeder is a smaller sub-region of Napa Valley (home to the famous Mayacamas Winery) and produces exceptional wines.
When purchasing fine wine, just remember: where is it from, who made it, does it possess any designations, and is there some age worthiness? Price does not mean everything. Many of these regions that charge a lot for their wine do so because they have built up a reputation of high quality and have been around for a long time. Newer wine regions may offer bottles with a lower price tag that offer the same great value.
How To Store Fine Wine
Wondering what to do after you have acquired your fine wine? Caring for a wine collection does not have to be overly complicated. Some will opt for a temperature and humidity controlled enclosed cellar, decorated with the finest mahogany. However, storing wine properly doesn’t have to be exactly like that.
Here are some simple wine storage tips to follow:
- Store bottles in your basement, in a closet, or under your stairs. This is to keep the wine away from sunlight.
- Make sure that the space is cooler than the rest of the house and away from heat. Heat causes wine to spoil as it warms.
- Keep the wine on its side. This is so the cork does not dry out, and oxygen will not get into the bottle.
- Red wines will almost always last longer than white wines. However, some white wines, such as some Chardonnays, Rieslings, and Dessert wines can have a long shelf life.
- Avoid keeping the wine for years, so you don’t end up forgetting about it. Have a system in place where you can track where and when you bought it.
- Sometimes it is better to just drink the wine now and enjoy it! Remember to check the proper serving temperature to make the most of your fine wine.
Following these tips will help you appreciate and understand the wonderful world of Fine Wines!
Stock Up on Your Favorite Wines
Our Cellar Collection features red, white, and rosé, along with sparkling wines from vineyards all over the world. Plus, they won’t break the bank, even our Fine Wines. Sourced to give you the best quality at the best price. Browse the collection today or stop by your local Wine Cellar store to pick up a few bottles that will go great with your Fine Wine Collection.