Vintage wine

Jan 28, 2024Mads Nyvang

Learn about vintage wine

We have been working with vintage wines for more than 18 years now, and want to pass on some of our experience. Some of the best wine experiences can come from vintage wines, which we define as being plus 20 years. Opening a vintage wine is like opening Pandora's box, because you never really know what will come out of the bottle. But one thing is certain, and that is that wine cannot be produced as vintage and that the many fun notes only come through long-term storage.


It is first and foremost important to deal with what you encounter when you move out into this special universe. In any case, it is certain that you should not expect the same as when you drink young wines. The primary fruit is no longer dominant, but rather the tertiary scent and flavor notes that only develop during aging.If you are lucky, these vintage wines are some of the most wonderful, and the aging notes are complex and diverse. The wine is old and has been locked in the bottle. There will often be notes of mushrooms, gunpowder and parmesan before the fruit penetrates through oxygenation. The wine is ok if there is fruit in the aroma and taste.

Preparation and opening of vintage wine

It is important to ensure that the wine has stood upright for at least 2 days and preferably longer before opening. This is solely so that it can settle and the sediments can fall to the bottom. If the wine has traveled by parcel post, it is even more important that it has the opportunity to settle down, as motion sickness is to be expected. Opening can be done with an ordinary corkscrew, but it is clearly easier to open with an "Ar-so" which can be found right here. Should the misfortune be that there are cork residues in the wine, these can be poured into a sample glass or through a strainer into a decanter.

Vintage vin

Oxidation of vintage wines

There is not an exact science in oxygenating vintage wine, but after opening +1000

bottles a picture begins to emerge. The challenge in connection with oxygenation is that the wine relatively quickly goes towards the vinegar state when it is exposed to oxygen. Whether it takes 30 minutes or 24 hours is individual from bottle to bottle and depending on the method you choose for oxygenation.

First oxygenation variant is slow ox bottle where you pour slightly from the top of the bottle so that the oxygenation surface in the bottle becomes slightly larger. It is then left to stand for at least 5 hours and in some cases even longer. This method is slow but is particularly effective with Riserva varieties.

Other variant slow ox in carafe or Magrethe bowl is in principle as the first mentioned method, but more uncontrolled. The recommendation for this method is to keep an eye on the wine while smelling or tasting it in the process.

Third variant is an oxygenation of approx. 30 minutes in a decanter, while simultaneously making sure that no precipitate comes from the bottle.

Fourth variant is oxygenation in the bottle for approx. 1 hour followed by approx. 10 minutes in the glass. Here you will find that most of the pent-up notes from many years of confinement have disappeared and the fruit comes out of the glass.

Fifth variation is the one I personally use myself, where you pour the wine directly into the glass after opening and take the whole experience from the first strange enclosed notes, and quietly experience that the fruit penetrates before oxidation takes over and the wine eventually collapses. A wonderful journey which can vary from 30 minutes to 24 hours and sometimes longer.

Vintage wines and quality

That vintage wines have quality and can last through many years of storage is not a given in advance. The better the starting point, the greater the chance that the wine has survived the long aging. There are a number of factors that must be present for the wine to survive and develop over time. These factors are acid, tannin, sugar, alcohol and the more the better.

Some wines are more suitable for aging than others and here the wines with high tannin and acid content such as Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese are good examples. In relation to the white wines, we know Riesling as being long-lasting and certain top Chardonnay-based wines primarily because barrel aging and high quality. Most mulled wines and dessert wines have a long shelf life, due to their sweetness and alcohol percentage. Champagne is also known for being able to age and develop special tertiary notes.

Tertiary Notes

To understand tertiary notes one must know about primary and secondary notes. Primary notes are the scent and taste created through the grapes, the field, the country where the wine comes from. All things that are difficult to change, but which of course vary from wine to wine depending on the origin: "When you talk about primary notes, you often talk about the fruit".

On the other hand, you have an influence on secondary notes, and these are the ones that appear when the wine undergoes production at the wine producer. It can be the way in which the wine has been stored, how long a massage has lasted or which casks the wine has been in and matured in the cellar. These conditions in turn leave an imprint on the aroma and taste of each wine and create diversity:

""When you talk about secondary notes, you often talk about barrel aging and fermentation".

Tertiary aromas and flavors are the aromas and flavors that are formed through ageing, first in the cellar and then in the bottle. This is best described by explaining that the tertiary notes are developed at the expense of the primary notes, which really means that the fruit takes a bit of a back seat while other fun and more quirky and mature notes come to the fore. When you talk about tertiary notes, you often talk about ripe fruit, overripe fruit, rotten fruit or dried flowers/potpourri. You also often experience extra push on scents and flavors such as leather, tobacco, licorice, camphor. Also variants such as parmesan, wet forest floor, sulphur, gunpowder, mushrooms, sweet tobacco, cola, smoke, cloves, spice cake, vanilla, caramel, barbecue smoke, nuts, dried fig and wet wood.

When you talk about tertiary notes, you are talking about storage”