Skip to main content

The question

What's a vertical tasting?

The answer

Story continues below advertisement

It has nothing to do with sipping in an upright position, though that is the correct posture for wine imbibing.

A vertical tasting is designed to showcase a variety of vintages – or harvest years – of the same wine from the same producer. For example: Château Pétrus from 1988 to 2005 or Burrowing Owl Merlot from 2002 to 2009. It need not be a complete set; you can have a broken series of, say, 2002, 2006 and 2008.

This sort of structured tasting, common in the wine-marketing business, provides a sense of the quality variations that can occur because of weather patterns, changes in winemaking staff or even the advancing age of vines on a particular site. It's sort of like an art show of Picasso's work from the Blue Period through cubism – you can trace the development. Horizontal tastings, by contrast, involve wines from the same year but made by different producers.

Vertical tastings usually progress from youngest to oldest. That's because young wines tend to be less complex than older wines. It's nice to build up to the big finale. But you can move in the other direction if you prefer.

When facing eight or 10 glasses on an empty stomach, you may want to ask for a spit bucket (common at formal wine tastings) or you'll end up horizontal before the night is through.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨