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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's the Best Wine?

People want to ask the "experts" in a field what's best. What was the best movie of 2014? What's the best new car? Or what's the best wine?  That is, what should I be drinking? I thought I'd touch on this subject because I often get asked what is the best or at least what is my favorite wine.

Fair question, but a question no one can answer but you.

Using the best new car example might be an easy way to explain why there isn't an answer to, "What's the best?" Is a $200,000 Ferrari the best car? Even if you could afford it good luck getting the kids to soccer practice or taking a road trip across the country. Is a 5,000 pound 18 foot long sport-ute the best? Gas mileage, parking? Okay, maybe something smaller. Some folks like SUVs because they sit high, some like regular cars because they are lower to the ground and consequently handle better. Many people need, or think they need, a full-sized pick-up truck. Many vehicles are "life style" purchases. Guess what, wine is too.

You'll want to put parameters around any choice of what's best for you. With wine, prices are definitely all over the place. Do you want red, white, pink, bubbles? With a particular meal, by itself, for your mom who only drinks Chardonnay? Summer wine, winter wine with a heavy meal?

There will be a most expensive or the highest-rated, but that doesn't make it the best for you. The highest priced wines are old, rare, and probably not even drinkable anymore! Sort of like buying a 1932 Duesenberg automobile that will only sit in a garage and get trailered to car shows. That is, it's actually useless for its intended purpose of getting people around. It's something to show off--just like wine purchases are sometimes.

In the case of picking the best wine it's really finding your favorite at the price you want to pay. Maybe you find a sweet spot in not too oaky Chardonnays in the $25 range or your favorite wine right now might be Russian River Pinot Noir. No, that's not the same as best because it depends on how you define best.

Asking some so-called expert what their favorite is, I suppose, okay as long as you aren't taking it as gospel. A winery tasting room person, a winemaker, or a sommelier cannot say what you should like. They might have guesses if they know something about you and what you already like. Look at these opinions as data points to use along the way to finding what works best for you.

Sorry, you have to answer this one yourself even though you don't know as much as the so-called wine experts.