Vintage. It's not what you think.
I am not talking about my grandmother's clothes (pictured left) or a very cool 1950’s Ford Thunderbird.
In the world of wine, vintage has a whole other meaning.
Printed on every wine label is a year (example 1988). This number is called the vintage. The vintage tells you the year the grapes were harvested. Okay, that’s great but why should you care? Remember, wine is farming and what is the one thing that no winemaker, even the best in the world, can predict or control?
You guessed it.
Vintage basically means WEATHER.
The most perfect grapes could be hanging on the vine ready for harvest and BOOM, a hailstorm blows through (this happens all the time in France). The crop is gone and the winemaker is devastated.
Now, think about the variation from year to year in terms of weather. Was it a really hot, long summer? Was there too much rain? Drought conditions? Forrest fires?
All these factors go into the wine itself which is why vintage is SO important.
You could love the 2015 vintage of “Wine X” so you buy the 2016 vintage the next year, from the same producer, but the wine is noticeably different.
If you are going to spend serious money on a bottle, research what vintages outperformed others. One quick Internet search can do it and online resources like
Wine Advocate, Decanter and Wine Enthusiast have vintage charts along with explanations as to what happened that particular year and how it impacted the wine produced. These charts also tell you the ability of a wine to age (whether you should drink it now or if you can hold it for years).
As Henry David Thoreau said, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”