I like bad action movies. Cliched dialogue, gratuitous violence, and less than moving acting all define one of my favourite genres. However, never would I try to claim these movies have cinematic merit. Subjectively, I enjoy them immensely. But on an objective level, I know they are poor movies. Similarly, it is important to note the quantifiable difference between good and bad wines. The number one quality a good wine must possess is balance. All the flavours should work together in orchestral harmony, complimenting one another and stimulating the palate. To provide an example of one that lacks even the faintest hint of balance, I thought I’d go ahead and do a proper tasting of my least favourite wine of all time, the 2012 Yellow Tail, Shiraz. It is enormously popular, being one of the most imported wines into North America. Yet, it possesses several inherent flaws that undoubtedly qualify it as a ‘bad’ wine.
Appearance: It pours with a colour akin to concord grape juice, very purple and dark. One indicator of a wine that has literally turned bad is opacity, but I’m pleased to say the Yellow Tail I tasted was at the very least clear.
Nose: It smells exactly what you’d expect a wine to smell like served at a large family function. A typical, unobtrusive crowd pleaser, this Shiraz smells of vanilla, black berries and plum. Maybe a hint of some spice. It’s simple and potent, something your uncle would drink at dinner after an afternoon of cheap beer to class it up a bit.
Taste: Here’s the category where the Yellow Tail really falls short. The taste is incredibly simple, overwhelming and imbalanced. It reminds me of a glass of wine cut with a tablespoon of corn-syrup. The black berries and plum persist in a background capacity, but it feels like my mouth has been fumigated with vanilla extract. This Shiraz tastes medicinal and crude, far from the refinement I look forward to in a glass of red wine.
Finish: Mercifully brief, all nuances of this wine evaporate in the finish, leaving a puckering, sweet sensation, like after gorging yourself on cheap candy.
So why is the Yellow Tail Shiraz so popular? Well just like a high-grossing action movie, this wine forgoes subtlety in favour of primal appeal. It’s extreme sweetness and simplicity allow for a beverage that can be consumed without consideration. In essence, it’s a bad wine. If you enjoy it, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you must acknowledge its shortcomings. For those interested in better wines, try to find a wine with interesting flavours, balanced and juxtaposed without overwhelming. Harmony is always better than cacophony. If you intend to drink a wine like Yellow Tail, sip it slow if you like, but you have no obligation to me.