In wine, what does Vintage mean?

9th November 2021

What is Vintage Champagne

Vintage will certainly seem to be a word associated with age and which can slot alongside the likes of retro, antique or even old fashioned. Yes?

Well, if we are using the word generally then yes, I am sure we are all familiar with descriptives such as vintage clothing or vintage cars which usually tells us that the item is old and likely to be rare / collectible and possibly expensive too. Vintage has in recent years become a popular term when describing an item and especially for the likes of online auctions / sales. It is a word that fits in nicely for describing something of age or of a specific era – Anything between 50 to 100 years is also likely to be listed as vintage (antique 100 years or more).

Though the word vintage is used frequently, is it being used correctly? No?

In fact, if we are to use the word vintage correctly then it is in wine that it was designed for. It can also be used to describe other items though must contain a year also for example ‘I own a vintage 1964 Porsche 911‘.

To me, it has been somewhat abused in usage, all too frequently added to make something feel important. It could be said that the word today has become less of value and dare I say meaningless or at least, untrustworthy. Though, for the wine industry at least, its respect and usage has remained fairly intact if not nearly always used correctly or at least very quickly corrected.

Vintage does not always mean a wine is old

Vintage does not always mean a wine is old


What does vintage mean in wine?

The noun vintage, when checked on several dictionary websites, shows us that it belongs firmly within the wine industry in order to describe the yield of wine or grapes from a vineyard or district during one season. Not every year will produce a vintage and this decision is usually that of the winemaker where a harvest may be seen to be exceptional in standard thus likely to produce higher quality wine.

It is important to consider, when in the wine sector, that when vintage is used that it does not necessarily mean old. A vintage wine can be just a year old wine as well as of course something of several decades old. A vintage will usually be more expensive, more desirable and better for aging. When we refer to a wine’s vintage, we are always talking about the year the wine was harvested ie when the grapes were picked.


Christopher Walkey

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.