How to spot a wine star

Kevin O'Callaghan, the SuperValu Wine Buyer, gives us his own X Factor summing up of how to spot the stars of the wine world. Below are this top three tips on how to spot a wine star.

 

Balance

Tasting wine involves seeking out each taste characteristic to understand the wine completely, as you experience it in your mouth. Just like listening to a symphony’s individual instrumental sounds coming together to make music to the ear I taste for the harmony of the individual wine notes. A wine has many contributing components from fruit flavours and mouthwatering acidity to the texture building tannins in red wines and of course, not forgetting the alcohol level. The wine maker will strive to bring all of these elements together in harmony to deliver a balanced wine. Wines with weak acidity will feel flat in the mouth, lacking that distinctive zest of white wines. If the alcohol is too high it will over run the fruit and come across as masking any potential fruit flavours. It is this balance that I look for and which should be found in any wine, be it a €10 or €50 bottle.

 

Varietal or Regional Excellence

When I’m tasting wines of a single grape, known as a varietal, or perhaps a wine from a region famous for a certain style, it is important that these wines, tasted blind, display exactly the regional or varietal characteristics expected of them. In cases when expectations are exceeded, then my choice is all the easier, especially if the price is right.

 

Quality to Price

This is not something that you would see often in wine reviews but it forms a very important part of the overall selection process. Some people have a habit of saying a wine was excellent when they’ve paid over the odds for it. Others are disappointed to discover that what looked like great priced wine was barely worth the effort in opening. Yet, we should note the difference between price and value: some of the very best value wines are not the cheapest on display. I find great satisfaction in discovering and enjoying a new wine that I would have happily paid a little more for the enjoyment. This is one of the simplest guides to how we measure a star wine. I feel sure you’ll often find this double enjoyment in our wines – the unique taste of wine you feel you should have paid a little more for.

Kevin O'Callaghan