In the last few weeks running down to the MW exam I’m still slowly working my way through the last layer of questions in my basket however I can see the bottom now so that’s a good sign. I’m also amazed I’ve gotten through so many questions! This one came up on my trip last week and it was incredibly thought provoking so I thought I’d expand this out and write a blog post around it.
This statement begs the counter question “Is the greatest wine red?” It really all depends on how one defines “greatest”. Does “greatest” mean longevity? If so I know that there are several styles of wine that can give even the greatest reds a run for their money! White wines that come to mind include Hunter Valley Semillon as well as German Rieslings. From the fortified camp, there are the vintage ports (which of course are red) but hardly anything can touch the longevity of Madiera (which is brown).
If “greatest” means best reputation you must concede that the Chateaux of Bordeaux do rank up in the top however I would wager that several Champagne houses would also be high on that list. One just needs to look at the popularity of Cristal among high profile celebrities to see that reputation can be critical to being the “greatest”.
High scores can also be used as the definition for “greatest”. If this definition prevails then it’s definitely the red wines that dominate. I personally have never seen or heard of a non-red wine that has achieved a perfect score on the widely popular 100 point scale. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist but the highest white wine score I’ve seen is 96 which is not shabby however doesn’t compare to the 100 points routinely awarded to Bordeaux and California Cult Cabernets.
What if the “greatest” wine is the one most popular with consumers? If one looks at volume as a gauge for popularity then the “greatest” wine may be pink! Like it or not the US drinks a LOT of White Zinfandel. Overall Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon still are the most popular varietals but the ubiquitous White Zin is pretty high up on that scale.
Perhaps “greatest” should mean greatest amount planted. Again a white grape, Airen, would take that prize. It’s so subjective that one could go on for days about this particular question. It would be very difficult to cover this topic in an hour long essay without a clear plan and a definitive thought as to if one agrees with this statement or not. Without that, the person writing will follow the rabbit down the rabbit hole and never return!
For the record, I don’t agree with this statement for many of the reasons listed above based on the definition of “greatest”!