Compare grapes to grapes, wine to wine

Posted on: March 29, 2017

Sometimes when I recommend a wine on my blog or in Hometown News, I get comments about the wines I selected. For example, someone might say “I liked that Rioja Reserva but it wasn’t as good as a California Cabernet Sauvignon I had last week.”

That’s an interesting observation but I also think that it’s a little unfair to match two totally different wines against each other.

I certainly wouldn’t expect a Rioja to taste better or even similar to a California Cabernet, which means you’re probably basing your choice solely on a personal wine preference rather than the quality of the two wines.

If you drink a lot of California Cabernet Sauvignons then your palate can become somewhat bias towards wines that do not have similar flavour profiles.

When comparing wines I like to use the cookie analogy because everybody likes cookies. Everyone has a weakness for their favourite little baked disks of goodness. I certainly do. If I gathered 20 people in a room and asked them what their favourite cookie is I might get five, 10 or even 15 different answers. Some might say chocolate chip, others oatmeal raisin or possibly ginger snaps. Some might even turn their nose up if the cookie has nuts or if the cookie is soft versus crisp. It would be difficult to pick one cookie that is superior over rest of them because of their personal taste bias. However, if I asked everyone in the room what the best chocolate chip cookie is there would most likely be some sort of consensus as to which one is the best.

Wines should be evaluated when similar in flavour profile. Consider matching red wines that are fruit forward or white wines that are off-dry. You can better appreciate the structure of wines when they are similar in nature.

2015 Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz – South Australia
An easy drinking Shiraz from South Australia that is a medium to full bodied wine without the high alcohol content of a big Shiraz.  All of the signature Shiraz aromas like black cherry and cassis with some spice in the background. An excellent wine to pair with roast beef or spicy BBQ ribs on the grill. (LCBO 441543 – $14.95)

2015 Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling VQA – Niagara Peninsula Ontario
An off-dry Riesling with good minerality and aromas of grapefruit and lemon. The wine is crisp, which gives it a refreshing almost effervescence feel on the palate. Peach and grapefruit flavours with a medium finish. A nice starter wine when serving appetizers. (LCBO 620104 – $13.95)

Mark Cochrane is a local sommelier. For more of his suggestions, visit his blog at, follow him in Twitter @markuncorked or on Instagram markuncorked66.