by Cathy Boyd
Recently I attended a christening for my newborn nephew and instead of arriving at the christening with an age appropriate gift, I gave the parents an IOU. I would buy a bottle of wine from the child’s birth year, store the bottle for 20+ years, and then give it to the child on their 21st birthday.
What are some guidelines on choosing a wine that will be palatable in 2038, considering most wine produced is best consumed within 5 years of bottling? First, choose a varietal that is known to have potential to hold up over the 2+ decades. Reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Vintage Port. Whites – Riesling, Semillon, and Champagne.
Research the vintages. Because the year is already chosen for you, review the professional’s opinion on the potential of the vintage. Look for producers who consistently make great wine no matter the seasonal difficulties. Buy the bottle when it is released. The cost of the bottle at release will be less than purchasing it several years after release at an auction, plus you will have the provenance.
Plan the purchase of the bottle. Purchasing the bottle is done long after the candles on the 1st birthday cake is blown out. Don’t forget! If available, purchase a magnum bottle (1.5L) of the wine of your choice. Magnums age more reliably and will provide the opportunity for more to share in the celebration when opening.
Finally, store the wine carefully. Proper cellaring conditions allows the wine to age rather than deteriorate.
For birth of a nephew in 2017, I purchased a Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling. I consulted professional reviews – Wine Spectator 95 points, drinking from 2025 to 2039. Price $45. The bottle is tucked away in my wine refrigerator (with a tag noting the intended recipient). And of course, I bought a second bottle for my collection.