Quality in Wine

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The concept of quality is regularly used in connection with wine, both for marketing purposes and as a marker of personal evaluation. It is also widely used as an element in judging in wine shows. Nevertheless it is notoriously hard to pin down its precise nature. Even wine professionals comment at times that ‘it is a matter of personal taste’. There are many—including Émile peynaud—who argue that the denotation of quality is essentially the subjective enjoyment of pleasure, and others who claim that it exists only relative to other factors, such as price or the circumstances of consumption. It is certainly true that our response to wine is in part idiosyncratic, dependent on varying physiological responses and the drinker’s cultural background (see philosophy and wine and tasting) but that has not precluded a number of ways of trying to define quality. Whether wine quality has a subjective or objective nature is complex, as is the relationship of quality to preference. Arguably it is possible to assess a wine as high quality without actually liking it.