September 25, 2015

The Ninth Element of Greatness: The Ability to Evoke an Emotional Response

There’s one last characteristic I’d like to talk about in my blog series The Nine Elements of Greatness.

So far, I’ve written about Distinctiveness, Precision, Balance, Connectedness, Complexity, Non-Fruitedness, Choreography and Length. Today I want to address what is maybe the most important characteristic of a great wine—the ability of a wine to evoke an emotional response in the taster.

I remember many years ago tasting with Bartholomew Broadbent, the son of the famous British wine expert Michael Broadbent. We were tasting a group of chardonnays, and when we got to this one wine, no one spoke. I recall thinking the wine was ok; it was not flawed—it was, well, serviceable.

But Broadbent was less forgiving. He put the glass down, and then said he thought it was a terrible wine.

“What’s wrong with it?” asked someone else in the group.

“It’s boring,” said Broadbent. “That’s one of the worst things a wine can be.”

After all these years, I think there’s a nugget of truth here—at least as far as great wines are concerned. Great wines are never boring.

Great wines incite emotion. They stop you in your tracks. Send chills down your spine. Make you write things like “oh my God” as a tasting note.

Great wines appeal not only to the intellect; they have the rare power to make us feel.

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