The Three V's in Wine

Paul Morrone |

The three V's in wine are vineyard, varietal and vintage

No… of the V’s does not stand for vino. What I have labeled the three V’s to be in relation to wine are as follows:

Vineyard or region-This can be viewed as the brand name that appears on the label of the bottle of wine that people relate to. Some of the variables related to the vineyard are culture and history or even family traditions related to the growing and harvesting of the grapes. Also the culture and traditions pertain to the fermentation, storage and distribution of their wines. Some vineyards or regions of the world have been producing wines the exact same way for hundreds of years. Other newer vineyards may just be capitalizing on rich soil and perfect climate for producing wines. Italy and France have been producing wines for many centuries where the USA for the most part is very young at producing wines but Napa & Sonoma produce some of the best wines in the world.

Varietal or variety means the type of grapes in the wine. Some of the common varietals of red wine are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Some of the common white wine grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. There are many other grapes that go into various wines. Some countries require that 95% of the varietal of a grape must be included in the wine before it can be called by the varietal.

Many wines are blends of the various grapes to provide some unique characteristics. One of those is Chianti which is not a varietal of grape at all but from grapes from the Chianti region of Italy. Chianti wine is a blend of predominantly the Sangiovese varietal of grape. The wine must be at least 80% Sangiovese grapes to be labeled as Chianti. There are three categories, Chianti, Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva. The difference between the three has to do with the blend of grapes other than Sangiovese and the various standards and methods to grow and harvest the grapes as well as the fermentation and storage of the wine itself.

Vintage-Lastly there is the vintage which is the year the grape was harvested. Napa has a requirement that 95% of the grapes are from a specific year. Other regions of CA and parts of the USA and other countries can go as low as 75% of the grapes are from the year harvested. The vintage has significance for several reasons. One reason is the growing season from year to year varies due to items such as temperature, rainfall and insects all of which can affect the quality of the grape. There are economic reasons for a specific vineyard that may affect the harvesting of the grapes or the fermentation and storage of the wine itself.

If you ever had a vegetable garden for several years in a row, think back to how your harvest may have varied from year to year based on various factors. One factor other than growing conditions can be neglect as well. Not watering, fertilizing as needed, insecticides, pruning etc.

It is not just red or white to think about next time you go to the store to buy wine. Hopefully I did not confuse you but offered some insight to make your next wine purchase more informed and the drinking of the wine more enjoyable.

Until the next Tom’s Take…