“vintage (n.) mid-15c., ‘harvest of grapes, yield of wine from a vineyard,’ from Anglo-French vintage (mid-14c.), from Old French vendage ‘yield from a vineyard,’ from Latin vindemia ‘a gathering of grapes,’ from comb. form of vinium ‘wine.’. . . Sense shifted to ‘age or year of a particular wine’ (1746), then to a general adjectival sense of ‘being of an earlier time’ (1883.) Used of cars since 1928.” From the Online Etymology Dictionary.
Vintage is the new catch word for so many things, these days. Vintage cars, vintage clothing, vintage weddings–you get the idea. I receive daily emails from sites that offer second hand, “vintage” goods at outrageous prices. A recent favorite was a pair of lampshades made of Popsicle sticks–yes, Popsicle sticks glued together–at a reduced price of $95! Where’s my glue gun!!!
So how did we go from lines from the Battle Hymn of the Republic (“He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored”) to an adjective for old, but not yet antique, things?
It all goes back to the fact that great wine is so highly valued and made better with age. So, while the word may suffer from a bit of overuse, let’s just keep the origins in mind, and value age and quality when we encounter it.