Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I recently purchased some dessert wine that is made using the solera system. The "vintage" on the bottle says 1927, but I wonder how much of the wine is actually from that year. What is a good way to work through the details of solera-style wine?
—Daniel B., Wichita, Kan.
The term "solera" refers to a system of fractional blending commonly used in fortified wines in order to maintain a consistent style. Picture a stack of barrels, with the youngest barrel on top and the oldest on the bottom. A portion of the wine from the oldest barrel, on the bottom, is removed for bottling. The missing wine is replaced with some taken from the next youngest barrel. That barrel is then topped off with wine from the barrel above it, and so on. The very last barrel is topped with the newest vintage. So, the oldest barrels, the ones on the bottom, always contain a proportion of the original vintage used in the solera, but only the winemakers know for sure what the exact proportion is. In your case, 1927 was the year that the solera was started, so wines bottled from the solera will contain at least trace amounts from that year.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions