Does Vintage Really Matter for Wines Under $20? - Order Wine Online

Does Vintage Really Matter for Wines Under $20?

Oct 08, 2023Michael Bozzelli

When it comes to wine, the term "vintage" often gets tossed around, and it can carry a certain level of mystique.  E̵v̵e̵n̵ ̵i̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵w̵i̵n̵e̵ ̵a̵i̵s̵l̵e̵ ̵a̵t̵ ̵A̵l̵d̵i̵.̵  People often associate vintage wines with sophistication and excellence, assuming that older is always better. But does vintage really matter when you're shopping for wines under $20?  Let's uncork in a blog post.  Excelsior!

What Is Vintage?

In the world of wine, "vintage" refers to the year the grapes were harvested to make that particular bottle of wine. It's an important factor because each year's climate conditions, such as rainfall, temperature, and sunshine, can significantly impact the grape's flavor and quality. This means that wines from different vintages can taste quite distinct from each other.  For instance, the year 2018 was a banner harvest for most producers in California, which is why 2018 Cali Cabs are so coveted.

The Expensive Vintage Myth

One common misconception is that older vintages are always superior and, therefore, pricier. While it's true that some older wines can be exquisite like first growth Bordeauxs (just don't read my Bordeaux takedown) and come with a hefty price tag, this doesn't mean you can't find fantastic wines on a budget.

Why Vintage Matters Less for Budget Wines

When you're shopping for wines under $20, you're typically looking at wines that are designed to be enjoyed relatively soon after purchase. These are often referred to as "drink now" wines. The goal is to provide you with an affordable and approachable wine for everyday enjoyment.  

Here are a few reasons why vintage matters less for budget wines:

  1. CONSISTENCY (̵S̵H̵O̵U̵L̵D̵ ̵I̵ ̵P̵U̵T̵ ̵C̵O̵N̵S̵I̵S̵T̵E̵N̵C̵Y̵ ̵I̵N̵ ̵A̵L̵L̵ ̵C̵A̵P̵S̵)̵: Winemakers producing affordable wines often aim for consistency in taste year after year. They blend different grape varieties and harvests to create a balanced flavor profile that remains relatively constant regardless of the vintage.  They know you are shooting for everyday enjoyment which is why for instance the winemakers at 19 Crimes get surgical about making Snoop's Cali Red blend taste the same year after year.  

  2. Freshness: Budget wines are intended to be consumed relatively quickly. They are not typically aged for long periods in the bottle. As a result, the fruitiness and freshness of the wine are more important factors than the specific vintage.  You can pull your bottle of Chloe Merlot out of the cellar now.  

  3. Price-Performance Ratio: The cost of producing wine can vary from year to year, depending on the vintage's challenges. Winemakers may adjust their pricing accordingly. So, sometimes, a wine from a less prestigious vintage can offer excellent value for the price.  (Scoop, we are working on adding a page dedicated to price-performance ratio to improve our site's ranking with Google because the search engine loves technical information.)

Exceptions to the Rule

Yes, but does it really matter for the amount of money in question.  


In the world of wines under $20, vintage matters FAR less than factors like grape variety, winemaker skill, and your personal taste preferences. While vintage can certainly influence the flavor of a wine, it doesn't necessarily determine its quality, especially at this price range. So, when you're on a budget, don't be afraid to drink the wine you know but from a different vintage.  Please do not waste your time to ship it back to the retailer either.  Hint! 

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