When buying wine, many of us wonder what some of the terms on the bottle actually mean. Like Vintage. Doesn’t vintage just mean old? Well, in wine terms, vintage means the year in which the grapes from a single vineyard were harvested. The flavor of the wine isn’t just dependent on the stuff used to clarify and filter the wine, but how the grape is actually grown. Soil types, droughts, excessive rain, letting vines grow near other plants, all these are factors that can change the actual taste of the grape from year to year which in turn affects the flavor of the wine made from those particular grapes year to year. Vintage can ONLY be applied to grapes from a SINGLE vineyard. So if you don’t see a year or a “vintage” on the bottle, it probably means that several different grapes from different vineyards were used to make the wine. The same is true for blends such as a Cabernet Merlot in which Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are mixed with Merlot grapes to produce a wine. The Merlot grapes might’ve come from the winery’s own vineyards, but perhaps the Cabernet Sauvignon didn’t grow well that year and they had to use another vineyard’s grapes instead. This becomes a blend and because it is from two different locations, it will not have a vintage. Expert wine connoisseurs can identify the difference between one vintage and another (you’ve probably heard in movies “oh 1958 Cabernet? Excellent year” they are referring to the vintage) but for most of us, the wine we buy at grocery stores generally have similar characterics from year to year. Next time you visit a winery or wine tasting room, ask about the wines that do not have years or vintages on the label and see all the different places the grapes came from. Another experiment would be to try to taste wines at a local winery made in different years. Happy Tasting!