When you see a wine’s vintage, or the year the grapes were harvested, do you know what this tells you? Some might think that a wine’s vintage only tells you how old it is, but you can get much more information than that. If you’re an avid wine collector, you likely know all about vintages and the best years for your favorite wines and growing regions, but what if you’re someone who just likes to unwind with a glass of chardonnay? If you want to get the most out of a glass or bottle of wine, it’s not hard to understand the basics of wine vintages and how to see if you’re getting a good wine.
What Can a Wine’s Vintage Tell You?
Some might think that a wine’s vintage is only to tell you how old the wine is and assume the older, the better. However, this isn’t true. Older wine doesn’t always equal better wine, and some wines, especially whites, don’t benefit from aging for long periods of time. While it is important to know how old a wine is if you’re a collector, this isn’t why you should care about your wine’s vintage.
Weather and Growing Conditions
A wine’s vintage is important because it allows you to look up what the growing conditions were like that year. We all know that some years are better for growing certain produce than others. The weather is out of our control, which can affect the quality of fruits and vegetables grown during certain seasons, grapes included. Because of this, a bottle of wine from 2011 won’t be exactly the same as a bottle of wine from the same vineyard with grapes grown in 2010.
However, it’s hard to say that, in general, one year was better than another for all types of wines. If you’re looking at a wine made from grapes grown in the Napa Valley, a wine made with grapes grown in the Finger Lakes would have been grown under completely different conditions. Some regions also enjoy more consistent conditions year after year, like places that typically always have warm weather. At Rikasa, we have wines from all over the globe and a range of vintages. For example, in Barossa, Australia, 2012, there was mild weather that led to a great harvesting season, making our 2012 Lou Miranda Estate Shiraz a great choice.
When you’re buying wine from a region with consistent growing conditions, vintages don’t always have a huge difference. Vintages are also more important when coming from smaller vineyards, compared to huge producers.
What Makes for a Bad Harvesting Year?
For a perfect wine, the weather needs to be just right, and what the perfect weather is depends on each type of grape. In general, weather that’s too cold won’t allow grapes to fully ripen, causing some to be overly tart, while if it’s too hot, they can become too sweet or dry out. Like any produce, too much water can cause watery wine or lead to rotting and diseases. Some years might also experience frost, pest infections, and natural disasters, like wildfires.
Explore the Vintages We Carry at Rikasa
If you want to explore what vintages are available, there’s no better place to go than Rikasa. We carry wines from amazing regions all over the world in some of the best vintages. Whether it’s a 2018 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, a 2019 Tuscany rosè, or one of our many other wines, you’ll find the perfect bottle at Rikasa.
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