Vintage, in winemaking, is the process of picking grapes and creating the finished product—wine . A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown and harvested in a single specified year. In certain wines, it can denote quality, as in Port wine, where Port houses make and declare vintage Port in their best years.
Most countries allow a vintage wine to include a portion of wine that is not from the year denoted on the label. In Chile and South Africa, the requirement is 75% same-year content for vintage-dated wine. In Australia, New Zealand, and the member states of the European Union, the requirement is 85%. In the United States, the requirement is 85%, unless the wine is designated with an AVA, (e.g., Napa Valley) in which case it is 95%. Technically, the 85% rule in the United States applies equally to imports, but there are difficulties in enforcing the regulation.
The opposite of a vintage wine is a nonvintage wine , which is usually a blend from the produce of two or more years. This is a common practice for winemakers seeking a consistent style of wine, year on year.
For wine produced in regions at the colder climatic limits of wine production, vintage can be very important, because some seasons will be much warmer and produce riper grapes and better wine. On the other hand, a poor growing season can lead to grapes failing to reach optimal ripeness, resulting in grape juice that is higher in acid and lower in sugar, which affects the quality of the resulting wine.
- What specifically does vintage produce?
- Which generally describes a vintage wine?
- When are the grapes of vintage wine usually harvested?
- When do grapes become riper?
- Why are seasons very important in wine making?