The Third Element of Greatness: Balance

When it comes to describing wine, balanced might just be the most over-used word in the English language. But balance is an extremely important concept….as is a related idea—integration.

Balance is the characteristic a wine possesses when all of its major components–acid, alcohol, fruit, and tannin– are in equilibrium. In other words, no single component sticks out more than any of the others. A balanced wine has what I call– a harmonious tension of opposites.

I often think of a Thai soup when I think of balance. Sweetness, sourness, bitterness, heat, spice–they’re all there in perfect contrapuntal tension with one another. And as a result the soup tastes harmonious…. it tastes, well, balanced.

Integration takes this concept one step further. When a wine is integrated, its components and flavors have coalesced in a way that seems almost magical. An integrated wine possess a unique, stunning character that comes from the synthesis of the independent parts.

A wine that is balanced when young has the potential to become integrated when it’s older.


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