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What is Elegance in Wine?

By Karen MacNeil
May 4, 2017

I often hear people say a wine is elegant; and I describe certain wines that way too. But what is elegance in wine?

If you look up elegance in the dictionary, the synonyms are grace, style, refinement, even sophistication.

In wine, elegance isn’t so much about certain flavors—as much as how those flavors present themselves. Is this pinot noir Kim Kardashian or Grace Kelly? Rap music or Beethoven?

I think that elegant wines have a certain subtlety about them. They tend toward the sublime. Elegant wines are also often complex. Because elegance carries a certain fragility within itself.

No one knows where elegance in wine comes from. You can’t predict it from the soil. A winemaker can’t make elegance happen. But a winemaker can ruin all hope for it happening. Overripe grapes, overwrought winemaking, over-oaking… they’re all too over the top.

In the end, elegance has a quiet beauty. Wines with exquisite elegance compel you to drink them—not because they leave you impressed, but because they leave you vulnerable to a deeper kind of contentment.