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How do you define fine wine?


Just having a think about this after some of the threads around newly discovered wine regions coupled with some of the EP threads.

How would you define a ‘fine wine’?

We obviously have a fine wine hub with a range as well as various fine wine lists and here at The Wine Society we do have a definition of ‘fine wine’ however I think that everyone has a different definition of what a fine wine is.

For me a ‘fine wine’ is a wine that isn’t an everyday drinking wine, the sort of wine where you have to think before opening it if you do indeed want to open the bottle. Whereas an everyday wine would be a wine where I would simply reach for the bottle and not be too concerned if I should be saving the wine.

I have noticed that some of the more lesser known regions or countries do make fantastic wine which could easily be classed as ‘fine’ but would be at a lower price point.

We do have a ‘small wonders under £20’ section which does have lower priced wine that is considered to be ‘fine’.

I guess an example for me for fine wine without a higher price tag is some of the Greek wines that I have stumbled upon:

How would you define a ‘fine wine’?


Fine means satisfactory… it’s not great, it’s fine though

I know… not in this context


For me fine wine is made for cellaring, not immediate consumption. There is also an expectation / proven track record of quality associated.


Can’t think which entry it was offhand, but the wonderful Sediment blog more or less defined fine wine as that which is priced in round numbers, rather than with 95p or 99p tacked onto the end.


I did actually ask this of your fine wine guru at the York tasting. He suggested that is was wine that has been created with sufficient character, quality, concentration and balance to be worthy of elevation above ‘standard’ wine. I would imagine this requires ageing, or rather ‘maturation’ and indeed process elements to help it work above the simple primary flavour afforded by simple, low intervention or mass production.


Here it is, found it:


I remember that this was discussed at a conference recently (I sent comments but wasn’t in attendance)



It is an odd term for WS to use: I hope you think that all your wines are fine. It took me a few months when I first joined to realise that there was a separate category, with a separate list, which I had to ask for because you do not tell people about it. (I kept finding wines on line which weren’t in the printed list, and asked why.)
I wish you would forget about it as a category. Wines not ready to drink is a perfectly acceptable category if you want to specify that, but don’t tell me which wines you consider ‘fine’, and please don’t keep the separate lists.


The following from your link to the Robert Joseph piece is as near how I see wine, which doesn’t make me feel good but does justify my being able to read a critics or experts ! review of a wine and say to myself, it could be what is said but then it could be what x has said, I always find reviews interesting but never definitive, only your own palate can be the judge of that.

"Other tasters had their own preferences, and none of them was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in these – any more than Bettane, Lawther, Parker - or indeed Robinson or I - were wrong about the Pavie.

Until we hand the task of wine assessment to an artificially intelligent robot (as I’m sure will happen sooner rather than later), wine, like art and music, will always be judged subjectively. Every encounter between a human being and a glass is as unique as a tennis match between two individuals. On occasion one of the pair will be on better or poorer form than usual."