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Grapes of Wrath: How to Tell Good Wine from Bad

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

Artisan Excursion Wine Tours

One of the most intriguing beverages known to Mankind, wine is a necessary indulgence—reigniting our senses with its unparalleled depth.

We all grow up seeing and hearing about the marvels of a fine wine, sometimes sneaking in a sip only to regret it later.

Part of enjoying a fantastic bottle of wine is discovering its unique flavors, and finally coming to appreciate its subtle undertones. But it’s not until you’ve had your fair share of varieties that you develop a palate for a drink as complicated as wine—learning to discern between the good and the bad.

The Good, The Bad and The Indecipherable

To truly understand the difference between the “good” and the “bad, it’s important that we understand what a wine should and shouldn’t be.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s what we’re talking about.

A good wine…


  • be the sum of its parts. In other words, a good wine should reveal at least three types of aromas or flavor profiles upon taking a whiff or tasting after swirling and linger. Do you sense oak and peppers, or perhaps something a tad fruitier like melons, cherries and black currant? A good wine, despite its complicated hybrid undertones, should be able to confirm what you’ve sensed before taking a sip—a complex combination of flavors.


  • smell anything other than what your senses perceive. In other words, if it’s not pleasing to the nose or downright putrid—it probably tastes the same.


  • last for a considerable length of time. This depends largely on the region, climate and variety of wine. Sometimes, extreme weather can be detrimental to the grapes and affect the flavor profile. In this case, higher end wines are much more likely to last longer—anywhere between 3 to 10 years (or more)!


  • be judged by its price. Indeed, some wines are meant to be enjoyed young, since not all wines taste better with age. In fact, a lot of what we perceive as “high end” is nothing more than expensive packaging and sophisticated branding. To take an example, a screw cap doesn’t necessarily mean the wine is cheap—it may just mean the winemakers are sticklers for quality (since about 8% of cork-bottled wine is tainted with cork or simply not fit to drink).

Ultimately, wine-tasting is an experience unlike any other. And if you’re just starting out on your journey, make an effort to ensure you get the best of the best.

We offer affordable wine tours across the stunning Santa Ynez Valley, serving the entire Santa Barbara Wine County. Call us at 805.734.7565 to avail a 6% discount on all packages and let us make your first wine-tasting experience one you’ll never forget!

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