A wine tasting, whether vertical or horizontal, is always a moment out of time, when our senses are awakened to better apprehend and understand what we have in our glass. Unique and suspended, this moment is an opportunity to share emotions, exchange ideas and take pleasure.

We sometimes hear wine enthusiasts and professionals talk about vertical or horizontal tasting. It's easy to understand that they're talking about wine and tastings, but what exactly are they? Here's a quick look at the difference between two types of tasting that are as complex as they are interesting.

What's the difference between vertical and horizontal wine tasting?

A vertical wine tasting is an exercise in tasting and comparing wines from different vintages, whether from the same cuvée, the same producer, the same terroir or appellation. A horizontal tasting, on the other hand, is based on the same principles of provenance, but this time, all the wines are from the same vintage.

Vertical tasting means discovering a wine through time, and understanding the effect of climate change on vines and wine. Horizontal tasting allows you to observe and taste all the different facets of a wine, depending on the terroir, the producer and the winemaking and ageing methods used.

Vertical tasting: discovering vintages

We often buy wine we know because we know what it "tastes" like, and we're convinced that it's bound to be the same as the previous year. While this is true on the whole, because the same character and typicality can be found from one year to the next, it's important to remember that vines and wines are living materials that can express themselves differently depending on the vintage to which they belong. A vertical tasting allows us to understand what we call the "vintage effect" on a wine. Every year, the vine follows a cycle, from the appearance of the first buds in April to the leaves that fall at the end of November.

This unchanging cycle is, however, conditioned by the climatic conditions that prevail throughout the year, which influence the grapes' components (sugar, acidity, phenolic compounds) and thus vary the quality and final result of the grapes at harvest time. Carrying out a vertical vintage analysis enables us to understand these climatic changes and their impact on the wines. This is where the complexity comes in. While man cannot influence the weather, he can influence the grapes once they have been harvested and taken to the cellar. The winemaker's work, or what is sometimes called the "paw" or the "touch", shapes the wine according to his vision and what he wants to achieve.

If sometimes this touch doesn't change from year to year, it can, on the contrary, evolve according to successive generations or simply by the choice of the producer who decides to give a new meaning to his wine. To discover several vintages of the same wine is to grasp the full complexity of this world, from nature to the cellar.

Horizontal tasting: discovering appellations

A horizontal tasting of wines is an interesting exercise for those wishing to understand the wines from a single vintage and find the wine that suits them best. In a given terroir or appellation where soils and topography are similar, the vines generally benefit from fairly similar climatic conditions from one area to another, with a few exceptions. What influences the grapes and the wine is the work of man.

In the vineyard, the winemaker works hard throughout the growing season, trying to obtain the best possible grapes according to what Mother Nature gives him through the weather. Once in the cellar, he vinifies and ages his wine according to his vision and the meaning he wishes to give to his cuvée(s). To taste wines horizontally is to understand the differences that exist from one wine to another through the work of the person who produces it.

Tailor-made wine tasting in the canton of Vaud

Would you like to organize a wine tasting for you and your friends, your family or a company outing? Alfavin.ch, a specialist in Italian and Spanish wines since the 90s, is there for you. After 10 years in its Echandens wine cellar, Alfavin.ch will be moving to new premises in Lonay in August 2021. It is in this new space that our teams welcome you today to organize your future wine tastings. Driven by passion and the desire to share, the teams have created a space entirely dedicated to tasting at the heart of the vinothèque in Lonay, between Lausanne and Morges.

With a rich and varied range of wines highlighting the Italian and Spanish regions, come and discover local wines. These two southern European peninsulas, with their long history and winemaking traditions, offer a diverse range of white, rosé and red wines, with many indigenous grape varieties to discover or rediscover.