Wine Wisdom: My idea of a fine wine

Mark P. Vincent

My goal is to educate wine drinkers and those new to wine to the wonders of this marvelous potion. Hopefully, I've been successful at that task. Let's review some of the highlights of my wine philosophy.

Great wine

A great wine is any wine that you think is terrific when you drink it. That, for you, may be a very, very expensive bottle of Petrus or it might be an inexpensive bottle of white zinfandel or Two Buck Chuck. Your opinion is the only one that matters when it comes to deciding what is great wine for you. A good wine is any one you like, regardless of winery, grape or cost.

Wine recommendations

Only value a wine writer's, retailer's or friend's opinion if your palate generally agrees with that person's recommendations. If anyone recommends wines and you try them and like most of them, then use them as a guide. You don't have to like everything we recommend, just most of it. If you find that you like what we suggest only once in a blue moon, find another source with a better track record for your tastes. Your palate is the only judge that matters.


It's summer, the perfect time for chilled white wine or rose. Rose is the clear summer choice of most Europeans. Who knows better how to live than they? Rose is usually dry, not sweet like most white zinfandels or blush wines. It is very food friendly, and ideal for picnics or the beach when chilled perfectly. Try these 2009s for hit wines this summer: Argiolas Serra Lori ($13), Castello di Ama Rosato ($14), La Linda Rose Malbec ($11), and La Veli Salento Rosato ($12).

Wine tastings

While nothing is better than finding a wine you love, nothing is more disappointing than paying for a wine and not liking it. Increase your pleasure and avoid the pain by tasting before buying. Attend tastings at wine stores and sample any wines you can, even those you may not like. Go outside your comfort zone; you may be delighted. You can spit out, with aplomb, what little you taste if you really are turned off by it. My recent tasting find is 2007 Rosenblum Rockpile Zinfandel ($33). It's awesomely good.

Wine prices

High prices don't necessarily guarantee quality or, even more importantly, that you will like the wine. However, there is at least some correlation between quality and price. Face it, how would a winery continue to sell wine between $30 to $70 a bottle if it wasn't pretty good? Consumers aren't usually stupid; most can only be fooled once. Conversely, just because a wine is only $12 to $15 or less doesn't mean it isn't great. Values abound and are a true joy to find. Seek them out.


The key to wine, like the key to life, is balance. What experts and wine lovers generally acknowledge is that a wine that has all its elements -- acidity, fruit, tannin and percentage of alcohol -- in balance and harmony is almost always a terrific wine. That means no one element stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I recently tasted three different vintage bottles of Italian wine costing $200 each. Without question, the fruit was great quality, and acidity and tannin were good, but the alcohol, at 14.5 percent to 15 percent, was excessive. It was excessive not because it was there -- as I've had high alcohol wines that were perfectly balanced, impressive and delectable -- but these wines had high alcohol levels that burned on the back palate, making for a less than stellar sip. While there is the possibility that, if one waits a few years, the alcohol will become integrated, how many people have the good sense to wait or the knowledge to know when the peak time to drink this will be? Go for balance; you'll seldom lose.

Value wines

Wines from relatively unknown and emerging areas are terrific and often a real bargain. Try Argentina, Chile, Italy, Portugal, Spain and South Africa and prepare to be enchanted. 2007 Carm Reserva ($19) from Portugal's Douro region is incredibly delicious and drinks like a much more expensive wine.

As you shop, think about these things and, above all, be adventurous; a world of wonderful wines awaits you. Enjoy.

MetroWest Daily News contributor Mark P. Vincent is a Framingham, Mass., resident who has a passion for wine. Contact him at