Wine Words: Non-Vintage

published Aug 6, 2012
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Last week I described the word vintage as it applies to wine. This week’s word is the opposite: non-vintage, often shortened to NV. As a wine word, non-vintage is most often used in regard to Champagne and sparkling wine, as well as many fortified wines like Port, Sherry or Madeira.

If a wine does not carry a vintage year, it is generally described as non-vintage, in that the grapes used did not come from a single vintage. The tradition of non-vintage is especially strong in Champagne, where a certain percentage of reserve wine (i.e older wines) is added to achieve the desired house style and taste consistency as well as complexity.

Similarly with Post, Sherry and Madeira most wines are designated non-vintage, by virtue of the tradition of blending wines from several different vintages.

In contrast to vintage, non-vintage wines are not about expressing the conditions of a particular growing year. Non-vintage wines are about expressing consistency of style and taste. Blending wines from different vintages enables the winemaker to ensure that the house style stays the same, year-in and year-out.

Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.

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