Date or No Date?
Just because you see a date on the label doesn't always mean it's a superior wine. In fact, many sparkling wines and Champagnes — even expensive ones — are non-vintage. This simply means that various wines from different harvests have been blended together in order to create a consistent style.
When a bottle does have a date, it is a vintage wine — which means that the majority of the grape juice comes from that year's harvest.
What difference does a date make anyway?
It depends on where the grapes were grown. In places like France, Germany and Northern Italy, the weather plays a big role in the wine-making process. In these wine-growing regions, there can be dramatic differences from year to year in the quality of wine from the same vines, the same winery and the same winemaker. The date on the label says a lot about the quality of the wine inside.
Harvest years make less difference to the quality of wines from regions like California, Australia and South Africa, where the weather is more consistent from one vintage to another.
But dates do serve one important purpose: reminding you how old the wine is, so that you can drink it when it's at its prime.
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