Is it possible to make Bad Wine?


Maybe my standards have slipped, but I haven’t spit any wine out for a long, long time. At least, not on purpose…

Why is that? Is it even possible to make bad wine nowadays? Or is it surprisingly easy for a winemaker to get up in the morning, spend the whole day falling over, but still have pretty drinkable wine to show for it at the end of the shift?

If I buy the really cheap stuff, I know I’m not gonna have that great a time. Cheap reds tend to be flabby and sweet, and lack tannic structure or texture. Cheap whites lack acidity and fruit weight, and just, you know, lack. Bought for parties by young adults etc. So I buy from the next price point tier up, generally. And leave the more expensive bottles for the Pool Room or the weekend.

So how come I am buying wines at the standard supermarket price of around $15 generally, across all wine styles and varieties, and marking in my little wine blog a 3 + here and a 4 there and even a 4+ if I am feeling lucky. So what’s that about? Who let the dogs not out?

Ch. Latour can be a 100 point wine, say, or on my scale a 5, but it costs $1000 a bottle. I recently drank a $15 bottle of dry Riesling that I reckoned was a 4+.

Maybe making wine is REALLY EASY, and it doesn’t take that much skill or craft to make something that is very drinkable. After all, it’s being made and bottled on clean premises, wine farmers know how to farm, right, and the vines seem to grow by themselves pretty well, as it would seem anyway from all this talk of ‘low intervention’ wine making etc. Maybe all the skill and money is now concentrated in making a wine closer to a 5 in scale?

I ask all this because I am drinking a lot of wine that is ok, mostly good or even very good, and I don’t know if this is because I am buying right, using my inside knowledge, or whether there is just a lot of very drinkable wine out there that is all about the same quality, and I can’t help choosing it, and scoring thusly, and it makes any point in reviewing and scoring the damn stuff, moot.

Maybe my palate and discrimination could be called into question, and it steadily becoming a stale, crumbling ruin desensitised by same-y wines?

Or is it a form of Stockholm Syndrome, wine-style?


Like this year’s Oscars, I would prefer a bit more diversity. I would like to drink a wine every now and then that I can recoil from, and say, “That’s yuck!’ So I can then cleanse my palate with a good ‘un and say, “That’s more like it!”

Three cheers for Stelvins, eh?


  1. I will rather had an exeptional wine with imperfections, than a good technical wine but boring. Technology has made the winemaker cheat and use shortcuts to make decent but uninspiring wines. But thats the main problem these days with so many wines with no identity

  2. Sometimes I ask myself the similar question. Overall quality of wine increased across all regions and makers, this is unquestionable, and it is a major improvement. Looks for the wines from the regions and producers you typically don’t drink, and see what you will think of those…

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