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What is Vintage Wine?

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A big word with a simple explanation

What is vintage wine?

Vintage = Year the grapes were picked

It’s literally that simple. The term “vintage” sounds kind of hoity-toity, but it’s literally just the year that the grapes were picked (not to be confused with the year the wine was necessarily made).

Why does ‘vintage’ matter?

The simple answer is… WEATHER.

The vintage or the year the grapes were picked matters when it comes to weather. In colder years, white wines are queen… and in hotter years, red wines with a higher alcohol content are plentiful. In countries such as France and Germany, where the weather is less predictable, wine can be more changeable, as opposed to the consistently hotter climates of Spain or Argentina.

Weather also affects crop size. Freak weather, such as a late spring frost or a random summer hail storm can kills off large portions of a grape crop and lead to smaller batches… which, in turn, can affect the price of the wine… but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

Vintage wine in a modern world

These days the vintage of wine is less and less important. With modern technology and science, most wine makers have better control over the temperature of their crops. Challenging years don’t really show up in the wine market very often these days… which is great! Better wine all around, am I right?

What does NV or MV mean on the bottle?

NV = Non-vintage

MV = Multi-vintage

These wines (mostly sparkling) are blended year-on-year, meaning they are made from grapes picked in different years in order to create the flavor desired by the winery. Blending different vintages began with Champagne when wine makers were worried about the climate being too cold for good wine. The idea worked great and now NV and MV wines and Champagne’s are marketed as being “hip” and “in.” Sure. Put it in my face.

I hope this has been helpful. Here is my free wine vocab guide so that you know WHAT IS UP.

vintage grapes

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