Vintage chart 1990 - 2012 Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s vintage chart is a year-by-year guide to the overall quality and drinkability of the wines from the world’s major winegrowing regions. The quality ratings are determined by our wine review panel of experts, based primarily on their tastings of current and previous vintage wines, but also on interviews with winemakers and knowledge of the weather and harvest conditions. Thus, ratings for 2012 are not included, as most of those wines are yet to be tasted. Vintage ratings are only loosely related to ratings of individual wines, and readers are reminded that some producers succeed even in difficult years. Drinkability colors are based on experience with past vintages and assume a high-quality wine and proper storage.

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9 steps to becoming a wine expert

Becoming a wine expert is daunting. Wine snobs lurk around every corner itching to challenge your wine smarts and everyone else has strong opinions about what they think you should drink. Fortunately, there is hope! Below are 9 steps to start you on your journey to becoming a wine expert. Complete the steps below and you’ll be confidently ordering wine from the fanciest restaurants in town.

Depending on your level of commitment you can become a self-proclaimed wine expert in less than a year. You’ll find that your wine knowledge is like a rolling stone; you pick up wine knowledge faster and more easily as you progress. Self motivated individuals will succeed. One of the premier American wine expert accreditation programs, Court of Masters, has no accompanying classes and is simply a series of difficult tests. To prepare for the Court of Masters most people either study independently or form small study groups.
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The ABC of wine tasting

Drinking wine is easy: tilt glass and swallow. Tasting wine is more of a challenge. You need special tools, the proper environment, keen concentration, a good memory and a vivid imagination. But after three or four glasses, the basic effect is the same either way. So why bother? I'm a baseball fan. When I take a friend who knows nothing about the sport to the ballpark, he may enjoy the crowd, down a hot dog, cheer if someone hits a home run. The rest of the time he's asking me, What's the big deal? One guy throws a ball, the other guy misses it. But for me, every pitch is a small drama: what the pitcher chooses to throw, how the defense sets up, where the batter tries to hit it, how the strategies play out. When nine innings are over, we both know the score. But while my friend may have passed a pleasant afternoon, I've been totally absorbed in the game.

Life can be lived in a casual way, or plumbed to the depths. We all choose how and where to spend our energy and attention. You may play music, cook seriously, tend a lovely garden. Maybe the things you love aren't vital, but they make life richer. Passion is never wasted effort.

That's why wine lovers learn to taste. We know that the effort we put into understanding and appreciating wine—as opposed to simply enjoying it (or its psychotropic effects)—pays big dividends. Really tasting wine adds an extra dimension to the basic daily routines of eating and drinking. It turns obligation into pleasure, a daily necessity into a celebration of life.
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Why and when to decant?

Seems like serving a wine should be easy enough: Just open and pour. But anyone who has ever struggled with a crumbling cork, or listened to a debate over whether the Cabernet they’re drinking needs to “breathe” more, knows that sometimes it’s not quite so simple.

Decanting is one of those elements of wine service that remains mysterious and intimidating to many drinkers: Which wines need it? When to do it? And how? Is it really even necessary or just a bit of wine pomp and circumstance?
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How to store a wine

So you bought some wine that you’re not planning on drinking right away. Now what do you do with it?

First off, it’s useful to remember that only a small percentage of fine wines on the market benefit from long-term aging. Most wines are best enjoyed within a few years of release. If you’re looking to buy wines to mature, you should really consider investing in professional-grade storage—a totally different ballgame

For everyone else, however, following a few simple guidelines should keep your wines safe until you’re ready to drink them.

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How to serve a wine

Seems like serving a wine should be easy enough: Just open and pour. But anyone who has ever struggled with a crumbling cork, or listened to a debate over whether the Cabernet they’re drinking needs to “breathe” more, knows that sometimes it’s not quite so simple.

Ever had a glass of wine that came highly recommended but was underwhelming to you, or been disappointed by a wine you had loved previously? Maybe the wine simply wasn’t served in a way that allowed it to shine. Temperature and glassware can significantly affect a wine’s aromas and flavors, as can the practice of decanting. Understanding how and why will help you decide what’s best for your particular wine and occasion.

Here are some guidelines on serving temperatures for different wines, as well as quick fixes for chilling down or warming up a bottle.


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Tips for attending a wine tasting

Here are four tips from wine pros for looking sharp and staying comfy at a wine event. To sum up: dress in dark colors, don’t wear fragrance, avoid dangling sleeves, and consider the venue to suss out the appropriate dress code. Women should consider wearing flats for comfort. If you have long hair, tie it back so you can spit easily (see tip 4) or keep a hand free to hold it back. And if you’re going to take notes in a notebook or carry anything, bring a purse or have deep pockets to stash your writing materials. Carrying a wineglass around means you’ll only have one hand free for holding a plate of food, shaking hands with winemakers and taking notes.

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