Vintage means more than just the year
Vintage. The word invokes images of barrels in a cellar, and maybe also of your parents’ basement (just me?). But exactly what does it mean? It’s helpful to first understand that we’re talking about more than just the year—and that there are four years at play here: the year the grapes were harvested, the year the wine was bottled, the year it was released for sale, and finally—even though you may be drinking it now—the year it is consumed.
Reds and whites are made differently
Wine is a beverage that’s been celebrated for thousands of years, and there are many reasons why. Wine has high levels of antioxidants. These are helpful in preventing disease—and can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
First off, red wines are made with the skin and seeds of the grape. White wines are made without grape skins. This means that red wines have more tannins than white wines; tannins make wine taste dryer (think about how your mouth feels after drinking tea or coffee). Reds are also usually aged in oak barrels which give them a fuller body, whereas whites tend to be fermented in steel tanks and have an acidic taste instead.
A good rule of thumb is to drink whites with fish (like pinot grigio), reds with meat (like cabernet sauvignon), rosé with chicken, and sparkling wine with dessert (like ice cream). My favorite sparkling wine is actually prosecco which is a little fruity and sweet but not too much so.
What makes a vintage wine?
To be considered a vintage wine, the grapes for the wine must come from a single year’s harvest. For example, grapes harvested in 2008 are considered to be from the 2008 vintage. To ensure it is labeled as such, that particular growing season must have been of particularly high quality, and it has to meet several other standards.
A specific winery has to produce the wine. It needs to be made from a particular grape variety grown in a specific region or area. This can vary widely depending on where you live in the world, as different areas have different soil conditions and climates that make them ideal places to grow certain types of grapes while they are not suitable at all for others.
What do vintage wines taste like?
There are many factors that affect the taste of a vintage wine, not to mention personal preferences. But since most people want to enjoy an elegant wine-drinking experience as often as possible, it’s best to understand how each vintage wine you might be interested in tasting was made.
How does a vintage wine get made? The process starts out with grapes being picked from the vineyard. The harvest is then transported via truck or train to where the winemaking is done. There is a lot of science that goes into making good wine! Soon after picking, the grapes are crushed and fermented in tanks which form what is known as must. This stage can take up to six months or even longer depend on temperature and conditions. After fermentation is complete, the juice becomes wine. It takes another year for the wine to develop fully or age. During this time, the grape juice continues aging in small wooden barrels with tight-fitting tops called barriques; this keeps oxygen out of contact with the fruit and alters its flavor over time once it’s bottled for sale by bottling companies such as vintners who own grapes from different sites around France or California (among others).
The actual taste of an uncorked vintage wine depends on numerous factors including type of grape used (usually Chardonnay or Merlot), climate conditions during the growing season and age at the release date, variety of grape used (for example Malbec vs Cabernet Sauvignon), where it was grown in France or California, how old it was when bottled (usually older wines have better quality), and whether it was stored properly after bottling before sale by a reputable seller. Vintage wines tend to be more expensive than newer versions although some recent versions are starting to look more like their predecessors so demand may fall accordingly
How do I store vintage wines?
You should always store wine on its side in a cool, humid and dark place. The ideal storage temperature is around 55°F and if the temperature fluctuates often, it will age your wine faster.
A wine cellar, or a wine refrigerator, that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of a private collector will best ensure your wines age properly. Some other places that work well are basements as they are generally cool and humid environments. However, avoid storing your bottles near appliances like washers or dryers because vibrations can disturb your wines!
Vintage wines are special bottles that are worth collecting.
- A vintage wine is one that’s been produced during a single season, at a single winery, from grapes grown in a single vineyard.
- Unlike a non-vintage (NV) wine, which is typically made to be enjoyed as soon as possible after release, vintages have the potential to age for many years and develop unique characteristics not found in younger wines.