As young and eager oenophiles, we drank our way through the 70’s discovering both the unrefined joys of baby Cabernets and Pinot Noirs and the youthful fruitiness of fresh-off-the-vine Beaujolaises and Zinfandels, occasionally regretting we did not have the capital to be sampling some truly great aged vintages. Laying away seemed a too distant gratification. A surprisingly speedy decade later, we found ourselves older, wiser, not much richer, but increasingly possessed of the desire to experience wine of a corresponding maturity.
We began to rethink our oenophilosophy when we came across a ‘70 Palmer in a wine shop for $35 a bottle. How many young ’70 Palmers we had enjoyed some years before at a more affordable $9 a bottle? How heavenly might one taste now? Eagerly, we plunked down $35 and wafted our old friend home, where we marveled at the refinements time had brought to her character. Laying away no longer seemed quite as sacrificial as before.
So we devised a system. For certain holidays of the year, we buy a case of wine, open one bottle for the occasion, and thenceforward, sample one bottle each year on that special day. Chateau Margaux now helps soften the blow of yet another birthday. To wash down Thanksgiving turkey, we’ve got some hearty Ridge Zinfandel on the block. New Year’s comes in with the miraculous muted bang of a venerable Yquem. And so it goes, from January through the December holidays.
Turning our holidays into winedays has lent a new and exciting dimension to our lives. We’re enjoying the wines more and they’re costing us less. We still indulge our passions for Beaujolais, youthful Zin, and wine-browsing bargains, but now we’re experiencing the full spectrum, all the way to peak Cabernet. Now we’re hearing the symphonies as well as the preludes—the celestial music of the little spheres. Life is a Cabernet* with some spicy Zin mixed in!