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Rio Vista Wines – How to Do a Vertical Wine Tasting

Have you ever wondered what difference a year really makes in a wine? Are you curious why a type of wine from one year tastes different from a previous year? Have you ever wondered how your favorite wine has evolved over time? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a vertical wine tasting is right up your alley.

A vertical wine tasting compares a number of wines of the same varietal from a single producer from different years, or vintages. Taste the same varietal from the same winemaker over several vintages to experience the way a single wine has evolved over the years. Tasting wine vertically allows you to see the dramatic or subtle changes a wine can have from year to year. Intrigued by the idea of a vertical wine tasting? Let us make it easy for you. Here’s a quick how-to before you get sipping!

Choose Your Wine

If you’re reading this, we’ll go ahead and assume you’ve chosen Rio Vista as the host of your vertical wine tasting. (Excellent taste, by the way.) A vertical wine tasting will teach you a lot about the different growing conditions and terroir – the unique environmental context – and how they can influence a wine’s flavors. Pick a beloved varietal and take your appreciation for it to the next level.

Pick Out Your Vintages

Select three or four vintages that are in near or direct succession so you can experience the chronological changes in the wine. Find tasting notes from the winemaker themselves (that’s us!) and any literature on the varietal and the year so you can learn all about the particular wine you’re tasting. Find out about changes in winemaking techniques, notable growing conditions such as wildfires or storms and, if it’s a blend, the percentages of each varietal used. Since the only difference between the wines will be the year, you’ll learn a lot about how these variables affect the outcome of the wine.

Choose Your Order

When completing a vertical wine tasting, we recommend starting with the oldest vintage and working your way towards the most recent. Or opt to begin with the youngest, simplest wines and work your way up towards the more complex, aged vintages. The choice is yours! Whichever way you decide to go, stick to a consecutive chronological order as you sip your way through the years.

Take Notes

You’ll be surprised at the differences you’ll taste from vintage to vintage. Write down flavors you taste on the nose and palate for each one so you can compare and contrast. If you’re tasting with others, have fun discussing what you like and dislike about each vintage and how your tasting notes differ from each other.

Wine tasting is always fun, but a vertical wine tasting is a great way to shake things up. Learn about your favorite wines in-depth and become more knowledgeable about the elements that contribute to producing quality wines. If you’re considering a vertical wine tasting, we’re happy to help get you started here at Rio Vista! Cheers!