Horizontal Wine Tasting Themes

A horizontal wine tasting is another classic wine tasting theme. Like a vertical wine tasting, it plays around with vintage versus producer differences to craft an interesting comparative tasting. While a vertical tasting focuses on several vintages from a single producer or vineyard, a horizontal tasting includes just one vintage. It is another interesting theme which can make your wine tasting party more fun as well as more focused on a particular topic.

So what is a horizontal tasting anyway?
Well, if a vertical tasting is the same wine across several vintages, then you might guess that a horizontal wine tasting includes several different wines from the same vintage. And you would be right! A horizontal tasting has only wines from the same vintage. In addition, the wines included usually all have something more in common. For example, the wines are often all from the same region. So you might have a horizontal of 1999 Red Burgundies which would include several red Burgs from different vineyards and/or producers but all from the 1999 vintage. Or maybe a particular producer makes several different wines, then the horizontal could be all of the wines made by that producer in one year. For example, you could compare the different Cabernet Sauvignons made by Robert Mondavi in 2001 including the regular Napa Cabernet, the Oakville District Cabernet, the Reserve Cabernet and the To-Kalon Cabernet. Generally, the wines do come from the same general region or else the vintage characteristics can be quite different. For example, comparing a 2000 Burgundy to a 2000 Bordeaux would be quite different because the vintages faired very differently in those two regions. There are no absolute rules for what wines can be included in a single vintage horizontal but try to come up with a fun group of wines that have something in common.

What is the point of a horizontal tasting?
This wine tasting theme gives you a great insight into the characteristics that are unique to a given vintage in a particular wine producing region. You can sample wines from different producers and different styles and see how the vintage characteristics are similar, or not, amongst them. This teaches you a lot about that particular vintage in that region. It is also fun to compare different producers to see which faired better than others that year.

How do you set up a horizontal wine tasting?
As we pointed out above, there are many ways to design this theme but generally we recommend sticking to wines with some similarity, generally wines from the same general region and of course all from the same vintage. Whether you have 3 wines or 20, try to create a range with some diversity within that region to compare different producers and vineyards. A horizontal tasting can generally be easier to put together than a vertical wine tasting, particularly if you stick to a current vintage which is still available in wine shops. You can generally find several wines from a single recent vintage at a wine shop while a vertical of several vintages can be harder to find (because the older vintages are generally sold out or sparse).

Are there any other wine tasting themes that go along with a horizontal wine tasting?
As we pointed out for vertical wine tastings, you can serve a horizontal tasting as a blind wine tasting to take the bias out of the picture. This allows you to objectively compare the wines from that vintage fairly without being biased by the producer, price, appearance, etc. You can also design a dinner theme around the wines assuming they are all from a similar region.

If you haven't already, go read about another classic wine tasting theme, the Vertical Wine Tasting.

If you are done learning about the Horizontal Wine Tasting,
return to the Wine Tasting Themes page.

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