What Is Vintage Wine?

What is vintage wine? Vintage wine is an older wine from a particular year that tends to be outstanding. Vintage wine is an older wine that is outstanding in taste. Connoisseurs claim it is the best wine...

Vintage wine is an older wine that is outstanding in taste. Connoisseurs claim it is the best wine available. Wine makers and producers save it, and then sell it for a hefty price at a later date.

Collectors then buy vintage wine and sell it at auction or save it for their own personal use. Collectors find out which wines are considered vintage by researching Napa and wines form other parts of the world from the past 20 years, and then determine which ones were considered the best. Vintage wine is stored for a longer period of time because the quality of the wine grows, says Brian Hays, a chef and culinary instructor at Austin Community College. He has taught at the college for nine years.

A majority of wines that are produced are designed to be drunk as soon as they are bought, because that is when they are more palatable and have the best taste. With vintage wine it can be drunk immediately or it can sit for 10 years. By doing this, it will only get better with age. Many collectors also store vintage wine because it builds in value. "Collectors will spend lots of money on vintage wines because they are considered antiques and are worth tons of money," says Hays.

What determines if a wine is vintage is the climate, the quality of grapes, the yields and speculation. Also, producers of wine have what they consider their record best grape harvest. "In other words they look at all the charts from the last five years and determine which year was horrible in climate due to heavy rain fall or determine if the wine was diluted," says Hays. "The researchers determine which ones are considered the best because one doesn't really know; one can only speculate and draw assumptions."

To determine weather conditions from centuries ago, connoisseurs are now turning to science. There is a scientific method called phenology, in which the onset of various stages of plant growth is correlated with the climate. The findings are based on the harvest dates of pinot noir grapes. Today temperatures are recorded, and one can easily find out what the temperature was one or several years ago.

One of the main questions asked when storing wine is how long should wine be aged. Hays says there is no answer because it depends on how well the wine was made, how well one can store the wine, and of course a person's own personal preference. "There is no right or wrong answer," says Hays. "How long to store it is just a guess."

To buy vintage wine is tricky. One has to do research and find out which wines are considered vintage, and then research to find out who owns that particular wine. One of the best places to do this is at uvine.com, a website that allows consumers to bid for, or sell fine, rare or vintage wines.

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