Vintage is the date on a bottle of wine—four digits that tell us the year the grapes were harvested. Simple, right? Yes, but there’s more to it. Let’s take a moment to discover what else vintage means and how to use it to your advantage. 

 

Vintage Vs. Non-Vintage Wines

 

Vintage wines display their harvest year on the bottle, and non-vintage wines do not. That’s because non-vintage wines are often a blend of grapes from different years, while vintage wines are only made from grapes picked in a single year—sometimes a single crop. Does this mean vintage wines are better? Not necessarily.

 

Sometimes It's a Matter of Taste

 

Vintage is like a snapshot in time. Prevailing weather and environmental conditions heavily influence a wine’s tasting notes and overall flavor, so flavor profiles among different vintages may vary greatly, even when the grapes come from the same vines.

 

And Sometimes It's a Matter of Technique

 

Some vintages are set apart by a winemaker’s decision to change their process or the type of grapes used. So, to get a true understanding of a vintage, it’s important to understand the unique circumstances of that year.

 

 

Why Vintage Matters

 

Vintage provides information that can help you and your customers achieve several satisfying wine-related goals.

 

Showcasing Specific Flavor Profiles

 

A good vintage is typically identified by a good growing season. For example, when a region experiences ideal temperatures and rainfall for the type of grape being grown, the grapes tend to reach their full potential, producing better flavor and the most desirable tasting notes. 

 

Highlighting Unique Offerings

 

 When makers of traditionally non-vintage wines issue a vintage batch, take note. Champagne, for example, is often crafted by skillfully blending grapes of different growing seasons to ensure a consistent taste. When Champagne makers create a vintage offering, it often means something remarkable happened like a great harvest or a change in the usual process. French laws also require that vintage Champagne be aged twice as long as non-vintage Champagne, resulting in a deeper, more complex flavor profile. 

 

Identifying Collectible Bottles

 

 Certain vintages are considered more desirable by wine experts and enthusiasts. Bottles from limited releases or ones that have been aged for several years often fall into this category and may command a higher price. While vintage wines are dated, they don’t have to be old. A bottle with a more recent date and the right balance of fruit, acidity, and tannins to ensure it ages well may be worth purchasing now and holding to serve later. A winemaker’s reputation for quality may also boost its collectibility.

 

Enhancing Experiential Storytelling

 

Draw customers into the emotions, challenges, and triumphs experienced by the winemakers of the vintages you offer. For example, explaining how an especially rainy season affected the flavor of the wine they’re about to drink will enrich a customer’s drinking experience. Incorporating educational and anecdotal elements into your storytelling will also improve the effectiveness of your upselling strategies.  

 

More than a mere date stamp, vintage provides a peek into the heart and soul of a wine. It’s something to consider when stocking shelves and making recommendations. You may even have a few notable bottles already. Filter by category in the search section to explore our selection of vintage wines.