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Wine for enjoyment or wine for interest?

I really like the review that was recently listed for this wine, as it pretty well sums up my two main approaches and experiences to and of wine.

“The overwhelming characteristic of this wine is one of dryness which dominates both the palate and finish. Quite a pleasing and complex nose of forest floor aromas, lead pencils, herbs, but lacking generosity on the palate. Fruit is not much in evidence and generally diminishes the wine. The price would seem to be more a reflection of age than current quality. A wine of interest rather than pleasure and undoubtedly better with food than without.”

Ideally, I think that all of us would opt for both but a lot of the time, particularly, at the £30+ mark, I find myself reflecting that it was interesting, more than it was enjoyable. I term these wines as intellectual ones, rather than wines for pure enjoyment, perhaps not dissimilar to how I view some novels; ‘War and Peace’ for example, versus many of Graham Greene’s novels.

As I reflect, it does seem that most of the wines that I remember for their enjoyment tend towards the less than £25 price range, with the more expensive ones being memorable but more so because they were more intellectually stimulating, with the occasional exception. Do others here, feel the same way?


Enjoyment every time. That is what’s important, and it is a whole lot more than the wine itself. That said, interest is not incompatible with enjoyment, and can enhance it.

But I’ve never understood the idea of drinking wine being intellectually stimulating. Tasting a wine possibly, but just about, only for the few, and with tightly contolled conditions that would preclude any pleasure. Get a good book instead, or listen to a lecture!

I do agree though about wines less the £25 being more enjoyable (and they can be interesting too). I rarely spend more now.


Same as Steve. Pleasure beats interest every time. I think I have come to that conclusion over a number of phases but in the end I can’t be bothered with any wine that doesn’t offer a significant degree of enjoyment. Knowing back stories and technical stuff can be an addition to that but I’ve also learnt that concentration on them leads down the path to over analysis and a significant risk of missing the joy that wine can offer (I have at times suffered that in spades!).


Is it possible that drinking a more expensive wine makes us feel a bit guilty about just enjoying it? Perhaps we feel we ought to be treating it seriously and thinking about it more “intellectually”. A bit like some art or literature, or food, where big names or high prices can lead us away from the pure pleasure.


Enjoyment every time.


Are you expectations playing too large a part? If you drink wine without knowing the cost till afterwards do you still find the same things happening? I wonder if you drink a fairly low cost wine are you just happy and relaxed about enjoying it? If you perceive the wine as expensive do you somehow expect more from it and therefore enjoy drinking it less?

I don’t buy expensive wine, but if I did I think I’d struggle to enjoy it as much as a cheaper wine that I think is good value.


Expectations are hugely important, but I wouldn’t say too important. It’s just the way we are. In studies people tend to report enjoying wines more if they think they are expensive. But I think I agree with you, that in real life it could go the other way. It may also depend on who is paying. Also, what you report may not correspond to how you feel about a wine internally. There is blatant lying, but also a natural desire to say what you think is expected of you.

Offering a subjective opinion (rather than an “objective” judgement) is often criticised as being easy and lazy. I disagree. It can be, but to do it well requires effort and self-awareness. It is more lazy to score different aspects of a wine according to training, and tot up the numbers.


I bought a bottle of that Ghemme a year or two ago (when it was under £25) and thought it was neither interesting nor enjoyable.

In general I’ve enjoyed a lot of wine both cheap and (relatively) expensive, and had a number of expensive disappointments. However on the occasions when I’ve stuck my nose in the glass and relaxed into immediate pleasure, the wine has almost invariably been over £25 (well, would be now).

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Specifically regarding the Ghemme (another vintage) I said “I will enjoy it for it’s strangeness” - noting black tea, sage, a lack of fruit and a very pale colour. In fairness the bottle improved after a day or so, but I didn’t re-order. Definitely interesting to see what can be achieved with Nebbiolo when moved away from the Barolo comfort zone.

More generally; in each mixed dozen I always order two or three ‘outliers’ purely out of curiosity - perhaps an orange wine, or something which has piqued my curiosity like the super mature 2003 ‘The Good, The Bad and The Sangiovese’ which I urge you to try. And I have re-ordered.

In conclusion, wine would be deeply boring without spikes of interest - be they good or bad. That’s my pennyworth in anyway.


Circumstances must be relevant.

I generally think of inexpensive wine as quaffing wine and expensive wine as food wine; both are enjoyable when drunk in those individual circumstances and less enjoyed when the circumstances are reversed. However, for enjoyment I would rather drink the expensive for quaffing than the inexpensive to complement good food … on the other hand if I add value for money into the equation to determine enjoyment I might just change my mind ! :rofl:

I tend to ignore/avoid this price problem by mainly drinking expensive wines that I have owned since they were not so expensive (luckily quality EP wines did not seem so outrageously priced 15-20 years ago) and thinking about what I paid not what I would have to pay now.

I am quite sure I would not run down to the local wine merchant and drop £100+ each on a couple of bottles to drink with mates whilst watching the footie/Strictly/whatever takes your fancy !!! :astonished:


Now you see I did actually ENJOY earlier vintages of that Ghemme. But then I paid around £20 for them, so they were firmly on the “enjoyment side” of £25 :wink: