Why Wine Vintage Matters For All Wine Drinkers


Mo Wine Please! Wine Vintage

Does wine vintage matter?

While the reasons may be different depending on if you are a serious collector,  a wine dabbler, or someone who buys wine to drink right away,  the answer is “YES”.

Wine vintage matters.

The quality, quantity, and flavor profile of wine can vary greatly from year to year, vintage to vintage.

Some wine vintages are just better than others. And, for collectors, some wine vintages can be aged longer than others.

Why is one year different than another?

Remember that wineries are in the agriculture business. The vineyards are the farms and grapes are the crops. Magical, wonderful crops.

As farmers, wine growers are at the mercy of weather and climate. Too much rain – no good. Too little rain – no good. The same can be said for heat. And coolness and fog.

Each of these things – factors that only Mother Nature controls – can make or break a wine vintage.

Napa Vineyard

Throw in things like earthquakes, forest fires, fungus, parasites and disease and you have to imagine that winemakers and vineyard managers must do a whole lot of worrying. And praying.

Vineyard managers and winemakers are in the field every day checking on their crops and doing whatever they can to overcome the challenges thrown at them by Mother Nature.

And they do it all for us so that we can enjoy the delicious nectar of the vine.

Why do I care if I plan to drink my wine right away?

Studies show that 80 – 90% of wine purchased is consumed within 24 hours. And 90 – 95% is consumed within a week.

So why does wine vintage matter if you are not going to keep the bottle for very long?

Because some vintages are simply better than others. Going to the store armed with a little bit of knowledge can make all the difference in how much you enjoy the wine you purchase.

Do yourself a favor and check out this super-helpful vintage chart from Wine Enthusiast.


Let’s take the example of a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.

According to the Wine Enthusiast chart, the Napa Cabernet vintage of 2011 is rated 89 while the 2012 and 2013 vintages are rated 95. Quite the difference, eh?

When you are in the grocery store picking up a bottle of wine for tonight’s dinner, you might look at the vast number of choices and have no idea where to start. Maybe you don’t recognize any of the wineries or you want to try something new.

First, you narrow down the choices based on price point. Next, perhaps you pick out a few based on the wine label (38% of wine buyers do).

But what next? How do you make the final selection?

Wine vintage, of course.

Again, let’s use Napa Cabernet as an example.You will likely see some 2011s, some 2012s and some 2013s on the shelf.

We know the 2011 is out. Both the 2012 and 2013 are rated the same and will be great. But, if presented with both, I’d go with the 2012 because it has had a chance to age a bit just relaxing there in the bottle on the shelf.

The same rule applies if you are out to dinner and ordering a glass or bottle of wine. Given the choice, pick the better vintage. And the older vintage as long as you know it is of equal quality.

But be absolutely certain that you are served the vintage you selected. Sometimes restaurants are slow to update their wine menu when they run out of a vintage.

Binny's Beverage Depot Lincolnwood

And, by the way, watch out for this when looking at “shelf talkers” at your wine store.

Shelf talkers are the little cards hanging from the shelf showing recommendations and noting high scores. If the shelf talker says that the 2012 Blah Blah Cabernet is rated a 95, be sure that it is the 2012 Blah Blah Cabernet you are buying.

Wine vintage matters.

And what about those who hold bottles longer?

If you are someone who wants to stock up on wine to save for a little bit of time or for serious aging, you will want to focus on the best vintages.

You are going to want to search out Napa Cabernet from 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2013 rather than from 2011.

Sidenote: Even though it was a tougher wine vintage, that’s not to say that all 2011’s are inferior. We have some bottles from that vintage in our cellar. But, we only have wines from winemakers we know and trust. It was a challenging year, for sure, but not impossible.

wine cellar

In addition to affecting the quality, wine vintage can also affect the ageability.

The Wine Enthusiast chart has a nifty color-coded system that shows if a wine is past its prime or right in the sweet spot for drinking.

Wine vintages that show up as “Hold” can certainly be consumed now if you want. The “Hold” designation just means that the wine will get even better with age.

The ageablity information helps collectors keep track of when wines should be consumed. You certainly wouldn’t want to invest in a fabulous bottle of wine from an excellent vintage only to stash it away for too long and miss the peak flavor.

That’s what we call a wine collector’s/first world problem/gut-wrenching nightmare.

As with everything, knowledge is power. Bookmark this post and download the Wine Enthusiast vintage chart to help with your wine purchasing choices. You will be glad you did!


Thanks for stopping by,
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The Secret Word Is Plethora – Guest Posting at Coach Daddy

I celebrate a plethora of reasons to be happy every day but today is a particularly exciting one for me.

You’ve heard me talk about my blog pal, Eli at Coach Daddy, right?

Eli hosts the monthly 6-words challenge inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s belief that any story can be told in 6 words, a weekly feature called “Go Ask Daddy” in which he answers questions posed by his 3 soccer-ninja daughters, and frequently extends a generous invitation to fellow bloggers to guest post on his site.

So you’ve probably already guessed (maybe the title of this post was the first clue…) but today – in 6 words – my big news is:

I’m guest posting on Coach Daddy!

Please travel on over to Coach Daddy to see what I have to say about the word plethora.

And while you are there, take a buzz around and enjoy some of Eli’s posts. You’ll be very glad you did!

The Stormtroopers are most hospitable.

Guest posting on Coach Daddy

Thanks for stopping by,
Mo photo signature_zps14e6c366.png

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Is It Fall Yet?

Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Although the temperatures outside don’t agree, I know that sweater weather is just around the corner.

Tomorrow is a big day for me – stay tuned for that – and next week I will be sharing a post about why wine vintage matters even to those who don’t cellar their wine.

But today, I’d like to share some random things that have caught my eye.

The Art of Liz Lyons Friedman

I first discovered Liz Lyon Friedman’s beautiful work at the Sausalito Art Festival several years ago. Held every year over Labor Day weekend, this beautiful art festival in Sausalito, California, is one of my favorites.

As I walked past her booth, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Liz’s colorful and intriguing pieces.

Liz creates “linocuts” or linoleum block prints. (See details on her process here.)

Their beauty with a touch of whimsy, speaks to my soul. And, the themes Liz focuses on – wine, friends, life, and love – are the very things I celebrate every day.

We have these fabulous pieces in our house along with her award-winning poster from the 2012 Sausalito Art Festival.

Kitchen Crowd by Liz Lyons Friedman

Kitchen Crowd by Liz Lyons Friedman (used with permission by the artist)

Cooking With WIne by Liz Lyons Friedman

Cooking With Wine by Liz Lyons Friedman (used with permission by the artist)

You can visit Liz Lyon Friedman’s site or find her on Facebook to see more of her talent.

College Football Tailgating

In a couple of weeks, we will be heading to Notre Dame for a home football game.

My mouth is watering thinking of the delicious meatball subs, chili and scrumptious baked goods on hand at the tailgate party our friends so generously invite us to.

This post, It’s Tailgate Season, by my blog friend Vicki at Life in My Empty Nest, is chock-a-block full of amazing recipes for tailgate parties. Vicki found all sorts of great recipes on Pinterest (like this yummy looking bacon cheeseburger meatball recipe from An Affair from the Heart) collected just for us!

I have pinned every one of the recipes shown in Vicki’s post. Now I just have to talk someone into making them for me!

The West Wing Podcast

I’m a nerd. My favorite television show of all time (please don’t tell the housewives) is The West Wing.

I loved that show from the first minutes of the pilot all the way through two terms of Jed Bartlett’s presidency.

Imagine my delight in discovering that there is a podcast, The West Wing Weekly, which is an episode by episode analysis of my favorite show.

Be still, my nerdy little heart.

Hosted by Joshua Malina (who played the role of Will Bailey starting in season 4) and Hrishikesh Hirway (musician, composer, podcaster and political news junkie), the podcasts feature analysis of each episode, behind the scenes stories and visits from many of the West Wing actors.

Netflix is offering every season of West Wing. I have been watching each episode, then listening to the podcast.

The only teensy tiny problem is that Netflix encourages binge watching by starting the next episode as soon as the last is done. I have stayed up waaaaaay too late too many nights hanging out with Toby, Josh, CJ and Donna.

And loving it.

Bounty Hunter Wine Catalog

I’ve shared this gem with you before. I consider the Bounty Hunter catalog to be the best source for online wine purchasing. They also carry spirits.

Bounty Hunter Wine Catalog

The fine folks at Bounty Hunter scour the world, curating a collection of wine based on quality and price. There is something for everyone and you can be guaranteed the wine will be good.

Just this weekend, Peter and I pulled a bottle of wine which we had never had before out of the cellar, a 2007 Pedestal Merlot.

2007 Pedestal Merlot

As soon as I saw the Bounty Hunter sticker on the back of the wine, confirming where we had purchased this bottle, I knew it would be a gem and it was!

When you visit Napa, be sure to visit Bounty Hunter’s Smokin’ BBQ Restaurant and Wine Bar for delicious food and a wide selection of wines. It is right in the heart of downtown Napa at 975 First Street.

That’s my roundup for now. By the way, all of these opinions and endorsements are my own. Other than permission to use images of Liz Lyons Friedman’s art, I have received no compensation from anyone included in this post.

Now, what about you? What’s on your radar? Are you ready for fall?

Thanks for stopping by,
Mo photo signature_zps14e6c366.png

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Joy To My World – “Who I Am” Chapter 8

After previously posting a list of my pet peeves, it is only right to give equal time to the things that bring me joy.

You’ve heard me say it before, I’m a lucky gal. Pathologically optimistic, I take great pleasure in celebrating life’s gifts.

Certainly, it goes without saying that it is the people in my life who bring me the greatest happiness. Experiences shared with these folks bring a kaleidoscope of color to my days and fill my heart with delight.

With grateful appreciation for the life I live, here are some things that add joy to my world:

Every single second spent with my grandchildren. Snuggling with them, listening to them tell stories and laugh, reading to them and hearing those oh-so-magical words, “I love you, Momo.” – means the world to me.

I could easily end my list of joys with that but it would be a pretty short post so I will carry on.

A perfectly cooked steak accompanied by a fabulous Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. (You knew wine would be on the list, right?)

Outdoor firepits – especially the one on this beautiful deck in Montana.

Montana fire pit brings joy

Football season.  I particularly enjoy college football (including tailgating) but will happily while away hours watching the pro games, too.

Amazon Prime. I consider this to be Jeff Bezos’s gift to procrastinators and those needing instant gratification. Guilty and guilty.

Blogging. I love writing and reading. I love figuring out the technical stuff and design. But ask just about any blogger and they will agree that the community – the people we meet both virtually and in real life – is the very best part of blogging.

Disney World – the happiest place on Earth and the site of so many wonderful family memories.

Disney World Cinderella's Castle

Pizza – my favorites being a Chicago deep dish pizza with green olives or a crispy thin crust with pepperoni and pineapple.

Dining al fresco in a world without mosquitos, flies or bees. I must admit, this is one thing I miss about living in San Diego.

Game night. My favorite board game: Personal Preference. Please visit here to read about the time I called a store looking for this perfectly innocent, “get to know your friends and family” game and, to the horror of the store clerk, called it “an adult specialty game”.

board games

My new computer. She is beautiful and lightning fast. The old one put up a gallant effort after its full-scale crash but was just never the same. Now the old guy is resting comfortably in the closet of electronics to be recycled and is no longer living under the threat of being smashed with a hammer.

A fresh blanket of snow on the ground with a bright blue sky up above. I know people think we were crazy to leave San Diego to return to Chicago but I really, truly love winter.

Thanksgiving and all the trimmings. You gotta love a holiday that solely revolves around sharing food. Also, there are the leftovers.

My house. There’s no place like home.


A basket of warm bread on a restaurant table. And if that warm bread is sourdough? Pure bliss.

On a related note, a warm sweatshirt or towel just out of the dryer.

Excellent customer service. It’s not that hard. Why do some companies treat their customers like adversaries rather than the lifeblood of their business? Mutual respect is a good start.

Snail mail of the handwritten kind.

The Golden Dome.

The Golden Dome

The calming sound of waves on the shore. Of course, for me, this must be experienced under the cover of a slathering of sunscreen and a giant hat. As my daughter says, we Irish are an indoor tribe.

Thoughtfulness, generosity, and appreciation.

The Star Spangled Banner and a flyover. Brings both joy and tears.

Time spent at a winery. My favorite vacation with family is to Disney World. My favorite vacation with friends is wine tasting.

Winderlea winery

Christmas carols – mostly the classics, not the one about Mama needing shoes in heaven.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert.

Springsteen concert

Going to the movies. A matinee rom-com and a bucket of popcorn (with butter if I’m being honest) is how I spell “A perfect afternoon”.

Pay it forward at Starbucks. Either as a giver or receiver, this random act of kindness makes me happy.

Kindness in any form. I’m a strong believer in the power of kindness to soften hearts and minds and the power of kindness to heal the world.

But what else would you expect from a pathological optimist?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

What about you? What places, experiences, and things bring joy to your life?


Throughout 2016, I am participating in the “Who I Am” project which is the brainchild of Dana from Kiss My List and Bev from Linkouture.

The purpose of the project is to give participants an opportunity to record the story of their life – for themselves, for their children, or just because.

There is still time to join in the fun. Click here to get the monthly prompts.

Thanks for stopping by,
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