Of all the mysteries of wine, bottle variation can be one of the most frustrating. In this article from our archive, Richard Hemming MW investigates the science behind the phenomenon, and explains why the old adage that ‘there are no great wines, only great bottles’ often rings true.

Originally published in Decanter magazine's June 2013 issue and now available online and in full for Premium members.

At an apocryphal blind tasting, six bottles of red wine are poured for the assembled experts. In silence, the wines are assessed with the speed and accuracy brought only by many years of olfactory experience.

A discussion ensues – they are Bordeaux, of course, and surely Left Bank. The host concurs. Agreement cannot be reached, however, about which châteaux are represented. The debate threatens to be endless, until it is revealed that they are in fact the grand vin of one château alone.

Originally published in Decanter magazine’s June 2013 issue. 


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