Reserve Wines Reserve Their Place on Top

Reserve Wines Reserve Their Place on Top

The wine industry is notorious for nomenclatures that add more mystique than clarification for its terms.  “Reserve” wines are a perfect example and Charles Visalli of Time For Wine explains what makes this distinction so special.

The term “reserve”, “reserve”, “riserva”, refers to a wine producer’s making of the best wines or perhaps an advanced aging prior to release.  Regardless, it hints at a special wine that deserves a special attention.  Depending upon the country and jurisdiction where the wine is produced and released can determine what the “reserve” classification actually means.

There are some countries where this distinction is strictly regulated whereas in others, the term can be a fancy marketing label i.e. Kendall Jackson naming all of their chardonnays “Vintner’s Reserve”.  Sometimes, this can also refer to a limited amount of wine that is produced under the best and most ideal conditions, whether that be the barrels or casks that are used and set aside for these special wines or just a finite volume of production.

At Time For Wine, a wine distributor and consultancy that enjoys educating the public about wines, techniques, and terminology, who describes the four different classifications for wines.


  1. Joven (young) is a good wine but not aged very long.
  2. Crianza is particular with Rioja, a Spanish wine that is aged for a minimum of two years while the Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three.
  3. Reserve or Riserva  4. Grand Riserva   The U.S. uses a term called “Private Reserve” and it is displayed on the label.  There are a number of factors that go into this, namely the “terroir”, or the agricultural conditions which can involve demographic location of which hillside and exposure to sun and rainfall and temperature come into play.  When those conditions all meld together to establish that “perfect” harvest, this can be set aside to label a “reserve”.


Pricing is then what many wonder what the differential should be and by how much.  Visalli describes this rationale comparable to a steak that is a certain cut of beef.  Kobe beef, a NY strip, rib eye, all garnish a premium price because of its quality cut.  With the reserve wines, this is indicative of grapes that are carefully harvested and picked in order to get the best production of this time.  The aging approach and even the amount of yield that comes could be considerably less in volume and therefore higher in price highlighting the forces of supply and demand.