What is a Vertical Tasting?

As our 2024 Vertical Tasting Series approaches, I’ve found myself answering not just the question, “What is a vertical tasting?” but also “What is the point of a vertical tasting?”

According to Decanter, a vertical tasting “compares a number of wines from a single estate or producer, in which all the wines are produced under the same name or label but come from different years.” The idea behind a vertical tasting is that folks can see for themselves how a wine might age. They get to experience the evolution of a specific wine based on growing conditions, vineyard practices, and winemaker preferences. It’s a great way to have conversations about how climate affects wine, and to discuss vintage variation.

People tasting wine.

A horizontal tasting on the other hand, is all about getting a grasp on how one vintage has been impacted by those same factors. A person would look at the same style and vintage of wine across a range of producers or regions, or maybe multiple styles of the same vintage from one producer.

For example, our 2023 vintage report is a summary of what all of our 2023 wines have in common. All of our wines – in their own ways – reflect the brief drought we had as well as the fact we got 10″ more rain than usual in a year. You can also look at a regional vintage report from 2022 that is focused on Finger Lakes wines. For that report, the same styles/varietals (ie, Riesling and Cabernet Franc) were tasted from several producers across the region. Their common trait: they were all from the 2022 vintage. Some of the wines were finished but some were tank or barrel samples. The goal is to see commonalities potentially due to what the year was like.

Our first 2024 Vertical Tasting will feature four vintages of Silver Thread Semi-dry Riesling (as old as 2014) as well as three vintages *from warmer years* – and maybe a barrel sample! – of our cult-favorite Blackbird Red blend. These are two of our most highly acclaimed wines. Our Semi-dry Riesling is known to have notes of peach, apricot, and blossom, and the library – or “older” vintages – tend to feature petrol and citrusy notes. Blackbird Red gets smoky as it ages, but when young, it’s a dry, smooth blend with notes of cranberry and clove.

Semi-dry Riesling & Blackbird Red bottles

Vertical Tastings are held in our VIP Wine Library and led by Silver Thread co-owners/winemakers Shannon and Paul Brock. We limit these experiences to just eight people per seating, with just two seatings per day. Tickets are $40 each and include an elevated cheese board featuring local snacks. The April 13th tasting still has tickets available; you can book yours here!