Definition - What does Complexity mean?

Complexity is an element that is present in all wines that are considered to be great or of high quality. In order to achieve complexity, the vinification process needs the right combination of richness, depth, focus, flavor intensity, balance, harmony and finesse. Complexity is the most subjective descriptor among the terms used to describe wine. A wine with complexity has a variety of subtle scents and flavors.

WineFrog explains Complexity

Complexity can also define multidimensional properties. Some wine varieties which are not just fruity, but contain a savory, earthy, mineral or spicy layers. Typically, complexity is not found in wines that are cheap, high in volume and mass-produced. It is found in a small-volume, estate-produced, artisan wine. This is more of a boutique trait present in less commercial and dedicated fine quality wine producers.

Complexity originates from many different factors, such as the vines from which the grapes used to make the wine come from. Older vines and the vines that are grown in poor soil tend to produce fewer grapes, but these grapes have rich and concentrated flavors. This adds complexity to a wine. Along with this, the wine making techniques also determine the complexity of a wine. Wines that are made to age gain complexity, whereas young wines lack this characteristic.

The process of barrel fermentation, the mixing of different varieties of grapes, as well as aging, are some of the winemaking techniques that are said to add complexity to a wine. The pre and post bottling maturation are also sources that add complexity. The various compounds present are changed as they break down and form new compounds which change the way a wine tastes. Complexity is a subjective topic, so it is often difficult to define precisely. But, it is considered a positive characteristic in wines.

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