Celebrating birthdays as you get older becomes more and more underwhelming, especially if you’re a guy and have a kid. Most of your energy throughout the course of your year is dedicated to celebrating other things, be it a child’s birthday, an anniversary, your wife’s birthday, Kwanza, etc. By the time your insignificant day comes around, all you’re likely hoping for is a day-off. Wine can offer you the opportunity to cast off the mundane and partake in history, while still kicking back on your couch.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried to spruce up these overlooked days by injecting a bottle of wine from my birth year. What I’ve gained out of this was a truly unique connection with the past that is in many ways indescribable.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a wine to for an upcoming “33” or “42” or whatever age you’re turning:
1) Choose wisely – Not all wines are able to stand the test of time, in fact very few are. I know my Napa-phile friends won’t be happy with this, but for anyone over 35, don’t even bother with California. So where to look? In my opinion, stick with Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont (Barolo) and even then, favor the better wineries.
2) Cost – Although this can be a pricey endeavor, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Sure, if you want a bottle of 1964 DRC La Tache you’re going to plop down a fortune; however if you want to venture outside of the pinnacle of wine, you can find some decent deals. I’ve personally had tremendous luck using the site WineBid.com and $75-$150 will allow you to acquire a Super 2nd from Bordeaux pretty easily. There’s also your local higher-end wine shop that may be able to act as an intermediary and assist you in acquiring something rare without having to pay a 15% buys premium (as you must on WineBid).
3) Preparation – You’ll likely need two things to open your properly aged (which means not in the wine rack in your kitchen) wine: a Butler’s Friend and a decanter.
- Butler’s Friend: the essential tool for opening a bottle with a cork that’s likely brittle from years of storage. The lighly curved metal prongs slide in between the inside of the neck of the bottle and the cork, allowing you to gradually disgorge the cork (see picture for what happens when you don’t have a Butler’s Friend)
- Decanter: Do me a favor. Hold your breath for 2 minutes. What did you do immediately after the two minutes is done? You probably took a few long deep breaths to try to re-oxygenate your body. Wine does the same thing. Opening a bottle of wine is actually a pretty violent process for the juice inside. Give it an hour to catch its breath and see how it’s progressing along the way.
There’s an intimate link with history when you partake in a wine from your birth year. It’s an ethereal experience that can’t really be described. Hopefully you have the opportunity to partake at some point!