There are so many niche terms that are used to describe different wines. If you don’t know all that much about wine, it can be confusing hearing all these terms.
How are you meant to know what exactly a vintage wine is and what a non-vintage wine is? Surely all wine is born the same, right? It certainly all tastes good!
So what is the vintage of a wine? And does this matter at all? Why is a vintage wine more expensive?
These are the questions that we’re going to answer for you today!
We’re going to cover everything you need to know about vintage and non-vintage wines so that you can tell the difference between them all, and know what to look for on the label when it comes to choosing a vintage wine.
So let’s take a look at everything we need to know about vintage wines!
What Is Considered A Vintage Wine?
When a wine is called a vintage wine, that basically means that it has been crafted using grapes all from the same year that they were harvested.
So the vintage basically refers to the year that the wine was made, with some bottles being aged for a few years before they’re released, depending on the type of wine.
It is thought that using grapes that have been grown, produced, and harvested all in the same year produces a superior wine. This allows you to notice the flavors of the grapes used, as well as the impact of the growing conditions on the grapes.
When different grapes from different harvests are used to craft a wine, this can often give you a very different tasting wine. Whereas with a vintage wine, you get a much better idea of the flavors of that particular harvest.
It can often be more expensive to purchase a vintage wine because of the complicated process used to only select grapes from that year’s vintage.
What Is The Difference Between A Vintage Wine And A Non-Vintage Wine?
There is one major difference between a vintage and a non-vintage wine. Vintage wines only make use of grapes that have been grown, produced, and harvested during a single season, as we have discussed above.
So this can often mean that the wine is more expensive to produce, but that it has a much more delicate and enjoyable flavor as a result.
A non-vintage wine, however, makes use of several different grapes from different harvests, depending on what the winery has to hand.
This means that a bottle of non-vintage wine is often cheaper, as it is easier to produce. But this does also mean that a bottle of non-vintage wine doesn’t have as nuanced a flavor profile.
Vintage wines typically have a more unique flavor than a non-vintage wine, as no two vintages will taste the same. However with non-vintage wines, they tend to be similar in flavor.
What Makes A Good Vintage?
The main factor that creates a tasty vintage is the weather and the growing conditions of the season.
If there’s been plenty of sunlight, and a decent amount of rain to nourish the vines, then this more often than not produces an exceptional vintage.
The grapes are allowed to ripen in plenty of time, reaching the full maturity needed to create a tasty wine.
However, too much sun will leave you with sunburned grapes. This then gives you bitter tannins and flabby flavors that don’t really amount to much once the grapes have been processed.
Similarly, too much rain will result in lots of disease and rot among the vines, which are best avoided if you want a plentiful haul at the end of the growing season.
It’s also important to note that in climates where the weather conditions are more likely to fluctuate, such as Italy, Burgundy, and Bordeaux, it will be more important to be aware of what the vintage is.
That’s because if the weather conditions were poor one season, then this would in turn affect the quality of the grapes produced.
In climates such as Australia and California where the weather conditions are pretty consistent, this is less of an issue.
It’s also worth noting that some vintages tend to taste better than others once they have been allowed to age properly in the winery’s wine cellar.
This allows the flavors to develop better so that the wine has a more complex flavor profile than that of a younger wine grown in a better year.
How Do I Know If My Wine Is Vintage?
There is an easy way to tell whether your wine is vintage or not. It should be displayed by the year on the bottle. This will either be on the front label of your bottle of wine, or you may find it on the reverse label.
Sometimes you may even find it on the neck of the bottle – it will all come down to the manufacturer.
So there you have it! You now know that a vintage wine is a wine that has used grapes that have only been harvested in the same year.
This can often make the bottle of vintage wine more expensive, as it can be harder to make sure that you only use grapes from that year’s vintage.
However, this often leaves you with a much better quality wine, so it will be worth the investment.
A non-vintage wine basically used grapes from several different harvests, depending on what the winery has to hand.
These wines are often cheaper than vintage wines, but they won’t have the same exquisite taste as a vintage wine. They are, however, much easier to produce, and much more readily available.
As to which is the best between vintage and non-vintage wines, it will ultimately come down to your personal taste. No two vintages will taste the same, whereas non-vintage wines will be easier to replicate the taste.
Why not try a bottle of both and see which you prefer!