How to assess the wine balance?
The culmination of all these components in a wine: fruit, acidity, tannin, oak, alcohol…is balance.
Balance is a complex topic – all of these components must work together to create a harmonious wine.
If you taste a wine and you feel like there is something off…for instance, if there is too much vanilla (from oak aging) or too much alcohol (which tastes a bit like burning) the wine is not balanced.
The thing about balance is that it is both objective and subjective.
We always say to trust your palate. Never get ‘bullied’ into liking a wine. Just because a wine has a very high score or the sommelier loves it doesn’t mean you have to as well! Even famous wine critics like Robert Parker or Jancis Robinson disagree sometimes. What is most important is what YOU like. Find your balance. Maybe you prefer wine that is stronger or fruitier than your friend, neither of you is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’
That being said, there is a knowledge component in wine. This the the objective part of wine tasting. With experience and training – expertise – one starts to develop an objective basis in wine and in understanding the theory. That is why there are courses such as these (and others like the WSET). When wine professionals sit and analyse a wine they (in general) have similar conclusions and appreciation for the wine…even if it is not to their taste.