Fine Wine and Common Wine – The Key Differences That Will Help You Make Your Purchase

At xtraWine, we’re always quick to point out that the best wine for you is always the wine that you enjoy the most. Arguments about what separates a fine wine from a common wine have the potential to distract away from what Italian wine is really all about – appreciation for the wines and producers that make the industry what it is.

However, we also know that many of you are investors or may have an interest in buying a fine wine for a specific occasions.

That’s why we’re going to take a look at some of the key differences between fine wines and common wines that you should look out for.

Difference #1 – The Price

This is perhaps the most obvious difference between a fine wine and a common wine.

Again, we’re quick to point out that price is not always an indicator of quality. In fact, some of the best wines on xtraWine are extremely affordable and would be considered common wines.

The point we’re making here is that a fine wine tends to carry a much higher price tag than a common wine. There are a few factors that go into this, some of which will dig a little deeper into below. However, the reputation of the producer often plays a role in the pricing. So too does the marketing behind the wine.

A higher price show ensure you receive quality for the simple reason that a producer would not be able to survive the backlash should they try to charge the Earth for a wine that isn’t up to the expected standard.

Difference #2 – The Production Run

Another key difference, and one which plays into the price, is the quantity produced.

Common wines are produced in volume to serve the needs of a larger audience. Again, some will argue that this can lead to quality issues, especially if the producer favours quantity over quality. However, you’ll find that many great Italian wine producers have managed to develop systems for ensuring they achieve a certain level of quality in mass production.

Fine wines tend to have much more limited production runs. Part of this comes down to producers being much more selective with the grapes that they use. In many cases, the producer may manually select the grapes instead of relying solely on their production techniques to achieve a certain level of quality.

However, this lower production may also be a deliberate attempt to play into the fine wine categorisation. A rarer wine of high quality will automatically attract a higher price tag simply because it’s desirable and in low supply.

As a result, some fine wine producers deliberately limit their production to attach a certain level of prestige to their products.

Difference #3 – The Occasion

Let’s be honest here.

If you have a special occasion planned, the likelihood is that you want to buy a fine wine for it.

Common wines are for more…well…common purposes. They serve as the table wines for the meals that you enjoy at home. They’re the wines that you’re going to buy when you have an evening planned with a few friends. 

A fine wine is one that you store correctly and take proper care of until the special occasion arrives. It may be one that you use for a wedding, with Champagne being the most popular choice here.

The point is that only those with plenty of money to spend buy solely fine wines. For most of us, a common wine is the drink of choice for all but the most special of occasions.

Difference #4 – Lower Sugar Content

This isn’t a hard and fast difference as it really depends on which wines you’re comparing.

However, many common wines, particularly those that may be of a lower quality, have additional sugar added to mask the fact that they use lower quality grapes.

Again, this isn’t always the case. But as a general rule, a fine wine will only have sugars that come directly from the grape. This is because the producer has confidence in the grape’s quality without the need for any additions to the bottle.

Difference #5 – The Barrels

Again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. But on a general level, common wines are made in large steel vats that some argue takes away some of the taste.

Almost every fine wine is matured for a much longer period in a wooden barrel. This allows the wine to absorb some of the earthy tones of the barrel and provides a generally more natural environment in which is can mature.

Seeing as we’ve touched upon it here, we’ll also mention that fines wines tend to have a much longer maturation process than common wines. This also means they have greater ageing potential when sold to the consumer. As a result, you can keep fine wines for a lot longer than common wines without them spoiling.

Difference #6 – Where You’ll Find Them

This is a pretty simple difference.

You can find common wines at almost any store that sells wines. There are plenty in the xtraWine catalogue, for example.

Fine wines tend to be a little more restricted. You’re unlikely to find them in supermarkets for example, outside one or two vintages that the store may have in as a special offer of some description.

If you’re buying from a brick and mortar store, you’ll usually have to go to a specialist if you want to find a fine wine.

However, the online domain makes it easier than ever to find these types of wine. If you browse the xtraWine catalogue, you’ll see a healthy collection of fine wines to go along with the many common wines that we sell.

Here’s the key thing to remember.

No matter which you plump for, quality is always going to be your main concern. It’s entirely possible that a common wine may be more to your taste that a fine wine that costs ten times as much.

It all comes down to your preferences.

We offer a little bit of everything at xtraWine, so why not browse our store to see what you can find?


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