Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

If some wines are left to age for years in barrels before release, does the year on the bottle indicate the year the grapes were harvested, or does it mean when the wine was released?

—Andrea S., Vancouver

Dear Andrea,

Even though wine labeling laws vary around the world, one thing that remains constant is that the year on the label always refers to the year the grapes were harvested. You’re right, some wines might be released right away while others might age in barrels for years before release, but either way, the vintage date is the harvest date.

Some wines might not have any vintage date on their labels, and these are referred to as “non-vintage” bottlings. These wines are blends of multiple vintages, which gives winemakers flexibility to maintain a consistent house style year after year.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

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.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.