A 4-step checklist to assess the quality of wine

Wednesday, 21 September, 2022
Wine Enthusiast, Marshall Tilden III
When tasting any wine, there are 3 main components you should examine: appearance, nose and palate.

You might even use terms like ‘legs’ (an indication of alcohol content), or recite a laundry list of fruit, spice or savory aromas that can be detected on the nose when discussing wine. If you’re really geeky, you may even start to discuss and discern the various sugar, acid and tannin levels in the wine, and what those components do to the overall wine structure.

But at some point, you’ll ask a most important question: is this wine any good?

Once you get past describing the wine’s color, what aromas are present on the nose, and what sort of flavors and structural components are detected on the palate, it is time to gauge the wine’s quality. Mind you, that is a different question than ‘do I like this wine’. You may love Two Buck Chuck for various reasons, but when going through this four-step quality checklist, you will understand the difference between determining if you like a wine or if it’s a good wine.


This word gets thrown around quite often in the world of wine, and is arguably the most important element necessary for a quality wine. But the trick to detecting and judging balance is to understand what balances with what: Fruit with tannin; alcohol with sugar; acid with fruit. If all those things work together, meaning one component isn’t at odds with or overpowering another, then you can put a checkmark in the proverbial Balance box.

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