Don’t Wait Drink It
By: George Balling
One of the frequent questions we get goes something like this… “I have this bottle of wine and how do I know when I should drink it?” Typically, folks asking this have two circumstances on how they received the bottle, it was either a gift and the bottle is expensive by the standard of what they normally drink, or they have a bottle that they purchased themselves or received as a gift that has some age on the bottle. Our advice almost universally is don’t wait drink it sooner rather than later. The reasons are many.
The first has much to do with human nature. There is significant research that now suggests that the majority of us who purchase something “special” whether it be clothing, a great bottle of wine or other item will wait to consume or use the item for an occasion that is equally “special” in our minds. The problem though seems to be that the longer one waits to use or consume the longer you will continue to wait until our “special” purchase for any number of reasons is no longer usable or consumable. So, if for no other reason drink that special bottle now or it seems you might never do so.
Another reason to consume a wine sooner rather than later has to do with the winemaking of any given bottle. Not all wine is age worthy. There are many wines regardless of price that are meant to be consumed now. We made this mistake with a California Chardonnay some years ago. We had received a case of an expensive and hard to come by California Chardonnay for a wedding present we would open one from time to time and they were delicious, but as the supply dwindled, we chose to consume them less frequently. Then one day we chose to open another, and it and the remainder were completely shot. Not all wine gets better with age, and I don’t know of any wine that will get better with age forever.
For those special bottles that we buy or receive that are older there is only one way to know whether they are still good or not. Open them! Tasting older bottles is the only way to know if they are good, great or bad. A big part of the reason for this is just as every bottle of wine is different, each of our palates is different too. Without drinking the wine, we will never know if it lives up to our expectations, until we consume it, any bottle is worthless, it is only in the joy of consuming it that the worth is realized. One final note on older bottles too, ignore the rating services. We can find data supporting or demeaning any vintage and any winery what matters most is what you think when you open it not a wine professional who rates things for a living and may have a completely different palate and set of standards than you do.
Regardless of what a bottle cost when it was purchased whether we bought it or someone bought it for us our advice is unchanged. When the time is right for you open it and drink it, and make the time sooner rather than later. We deal in many expensive bottles, and whether any bottle is worth what the bottles cost is up to you and whomever drinks the bottle with you. Chances are that the memory of when you purchased the bottle or who bought it for you will have more to do with your perception of the value of the wine than the original price tag. There are many grand stories surrounding a special bottle of wine, so get in there and explore it, and write your stories.
We are at the beginning of the most special time of year, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are upon us. A trying year of 2021 is about to go in the “history books” and the dawn of a New Year is in our sights, so here is the challenge for each of us. Go into our wine collections, and track down those bottles we were given or purchased with a grand plan in mind that we never quite reached. When we are with those closest to us this holiday season, tell them the story of how we came to have the bottle or bottles and then open them and enjoy them. They may meet our expectations or they may disappoint, but there will be value and stories in every one of those bottles once they are opened.