If you're looking for a fun way to get started with wine tasting, look no further than a vertical tasting. Vertical tastings are excellent because they allow participants of all levels (novice or expert) to try different vintages of the same varietal, get to know the wine's journey and decide when they would prefer to drink the wine.
At Tahbilk, one of our main interests is ageing wine in our underground cellars, and because of this, we have an extensive cellaring program. It means guests at our cellar door can enjoy current vintages versus aged wine side by side at any given time. They can taste the wine's journey and notice the differences the vintage conditions have made.
A vertical tasting goes one step further than your average tasting. By tasting multiple consecutive vintages you’ll discover subtle differences that might otherwise be overlooked, making the experience so educationally compelling.
We have put together some ideas for some vertical tastings you can do at home with your friends, along with helpful hints and tips to help you get started.
Gather your friends for a fun vertical tasting
Vertical tastings are fun, and they can be overwhelming if you have too many wines and/or guests. It's best to keep it low key so that your guests are not overwhelmed by the number of choices available and the conversations they create. Three to four wines are typically enough for most people who want an activity whilst spending some good quality time together.
At Tahbilk, our aged wines are Marsanne, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon, you might want to have a look at a vertical tasting in a few different configurations, for example:
- Estate vintage through to Museum wines
- Eric Stevens Purbrick Shiraz
- Eric Stevens Purbrick Cabernet Sauvignon
- Old Vines Shiraz Cabernet
- 1927 Vines Marsanne
- 1860 Vines Shiraz
Seek out three to four vintages of the same wine that will have around three to five years difference (e.g., 2021, 2016, 2011)
Collect the tasting notes of each wine from the winery or winemaker for each vintage. You can leave these to the end to test your participants or follow along to one of our vertical tasting videos with Jo and Holly from our winemaking and tasting team.
Place one wine glass per wine for each of your guests, don't forget the spittoon if you have drivers coming to your event. It's also a good idea to have water available too.
Have paper and a pencil ready for guests to write down thoughts if they wish, and encourage conversation as you work through each wine.
When it's tasting time, begin with the youngest to oldest and work your way as a group through tasting each one. Pour a small amount of wine into each glass so everyone gets a good taste.
After the tasting, you can pour each guest a glass of their favourite wine.
It's a fun game to leave the winemaker's tasting notes to the end so that you can compare your thoughts and see if you picked up on any of the vintage differences, such as certain weather events like a hot or cool season. Winemaking techniques can make a difference, too, such as using old versus new oak. The notes can be very insightful and may surprise you!