I think it was Iggy Pop who said there are only two types of music - good music and bad music. I feel the same about wine.
Iggy’s show on BBC 6 Music unashamedly skips around genres, jumping from Bach’s Goldberg Variations to punk, soul to electronica. All good, just different.
Equally, I love the huge variety of styles of wine produced. From salty, super-dry manzanilla sherry to sumptuous, rich, slippery, sweet wines. Pale, fragile Pinot Noir to dark, dried-fruit rich Puglian reds. All good, just different.
For me a good wine is one I’m enjoying drinking at that moment and that didn’t cost more than I thought it should have done.
It’s an expression of the place and circumstance that created it - the soils, the weather, the traditions. Wine made by a farmer, not a chemist.
And bad wine? A wine can be faulty. Bottles can suffer from cork taint and although that is less common than it was, it’s always sad and bad. There are some “faults” that depend on your tolerance or point of view. I’m fine with a little haziness, a touch of brettanomyces or volatile acidity but for some people these are a definite no-no.
Fundamentally though boring wine is bad wine. There’s only so much time to drink and so many bottles to be drunk. No time to waste!
Here are two wines I think are great for different occasions -
Les Vignerons d’Estézargues, Cuvée des Galets - From a forward thinking small cooperative in the Rhône valley in France which when other coops were chasing high volumes and low prices turned the other way and went for quality and individuality. A red full of easy drinking fruit, touches of spice, soft round and moreish. At just over £10 it’s a bargain.
Cascina degli Ulivi, Nibiô - Stefano Bellotti, who very sadly died last year, was a champion of organic farming and natural winemaking. He had constant struggles with the authorities who said his wines were not “typical”. They’re not. They’re sensational. This is an extraordinary expression of the Piedmont hills of northern Italy. A bottle for a special occasion with wine lovers.