Facing a huge wine list or a silent auction and don’t know if 2001 was a good year for California Cabernet? You can’t exactly whip out a reference book or a laptop at the table and look up the wine. (I guess if you have an iPhone you’re in good shape, but really…)
Enter the Drinkhacker Vino Cheat Sheet, which tells you, region by region, what years are worth investing in for wine. Unlike other guides, I’m including only the best years in my guide. If you don’t see a year listed, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good or that you won’t find good wines from that vintage, but it does mean that, on the whole, it’s not one of the best years on tap.
How to use the cheat sheet: Only the last two digits of a year are included to save space, and the list only rarely reaches back into the pre-WWII era, so assume anything you see starting with a zero to be from this century.
All years listed here are exemplary vintages, but those in green with underlining are the cream of the crop, “classic” years that you should consider the very best on the market. (Why green and underlined? So you can tell the difference whether you use a color or black & white printer.)
I’ve left out less common wine regions like Argentina and Austria and consolidated regions like the Rhone valley (only vintages where all wines generally performed well earned a spot on the list). If you’d like to request an area be added or split in two (say, left- and right-bank Bordeaux) for the next revision of the cheat sheet, just drop me a line. (Click email to your right.) I plan to update the list once or twice a year as new vintages are released, so check back periodically to snag an updated list!
That’s all there is to it. Just download the list and print it out, fold it up, and stick it in your wallet. When it gets crumpled up, just come back and grab a new one. It will always be here, and always be free.