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What Makes a Great Wine Great?

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What makes a great wine great? With one of the best wine lists in the area (we’ve received Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence" several years running), we here at Seagar’s in Destin get this question a lot. It’s a subject you could devote your life to (and we have), but by paying attention to a few details the next time you pour a glass of wine, you can learn a surprising amount about its quality. Here’s how.


To set the stage, pour a glass and admire its color and legs. White wine will be anything from a pale yellow-green when it’s young to a rich yellow-gold color when it’s more mature. Red wine, on the other hand, starts its life a deep ruby or violet and takes on paler red and orange tones as it ages. Then take a look at your wine’s legs. They’re the little rivulets that run down the side of the glass after you give your glass a swirl. The thicker they are, the higher the wine’s alcohol content.


Now that you’ve appreciated the wine with your eyes, you’re ready to use your nose — and here’s where the wine’s quality becomes clearer. What you’re looking for is complexity, the first quality of a great wine. Swirl the wine in the glass and inhale. You’ll smell fruit, of course, and you might also notice flowers, herbs, earthy notes or woodsy scents. Can you make out a few of these? If you only smell fruit, then it’s probably not a great bottle. But if its bouquet is complex, it could be a great wine. You’ll find many delicious, complex wines on our amazing wine list at Seagar’s in Sandestin!


Next, it’s time to taste the wine and experience its balance and depth, two more qualities that contribute to great wine. Take a sip and let the wine roll around in your mouth. Does your mouth feel hot? Then there’s too much alcohol. Does it make you pucker up? It’s too acidic. Is it “flabby?” Then it’s not acidic enough. Does your mouth feel dry? It has too many tannins. Is it too sweet? Then the sugar content is too high. But if the alcohol, acidity, tannins, sweetness — and fruit are in harmony, that’s a sign it’s a well-balanced, great wine.

As for depth, take another sip and notice the flavors you taste beyond fruit. If you can single out at least a few more, that’s another sign it could be a great wine.


Finally, there’s the finish. A great wine should stay with you for some time. So, after you swallow, savor the aftertaste that lingers on your palate. The longer it stays with you, the better the quality of the wine.

With your newfound knowledge, what better place to taste great wine than at Seagar’s? We have one of the best wine lists on the Gulf Coast and our wine experts are available to answer your questions and help you choose the perfect bottle.