Vertical and Horizontal Have Special Meanings for Wine Tasting

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You’ve likely seen the terms “vertical tasting” and “horizontal tasting” in reference to wine tasting party themes. While some party goers might think it has to do with whether the guests are standing or reclining at the end of a party, these tasting options are actually terrific ways to learn about specific wine varietals and vintages. We thought we’d shed some light on the specifics.


Vertical Tasting

At a vertical wine tasting, you serve bottles of the same wine from the same producer, only different vintages. For example, you could serve a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. The objective is to identify the wine’s traits that appear from year to year – or the differences from one year to the next.


Horizontal Tasting

At a horizontal tasting, you serve the same kind of wine from the same year from the same general area but different producers. Say Russian River Chardonnay from the 2010 vintage from different wineries.


Another option for a wine tasting party is a “Blind Tasting”. Here you put the wine bottles in brown bags or a decanter so that none of the guests know the identify of the wines being poured.   Guests give their objective opinions of the wines without the influence of the labels.


These party girls from way back have tried all three themes and can attest to the fun – and learning experience.



Barbara and Beverly