What Wine to Drink on My 50th Birthday?

Okay, I’m turning 50 next week…big occaison, obviously, and it demands a great wine to go with it!!!

So what to drink? Something I go out and buy, probably spending more than I should because of the day?

Or something from my cellar? A more logical — and cost-effective — choice, for sure. But what? Something old, which risks oxidation? Something new, which might be too tannic?

And what kind of wine? The highest rated would seem to be the most logical choice. But having been into wine for almost 30 years now, I have also gone through phases and my tastes have changed.

It turns out my highest rated (and, by coincidence, most valuable) dry red wine is the 1982 Chateau Marguax. It has received 99 points from both the Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate and, at 30 years old, definitely ready to drink. It was purchased back in 1986 for about $100, it is now listed at US $500 – $800! Yikes!

What’s the downside, you say (aside from drinking something that is so valuable)? Well, anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that….I know don’t like Bordeaux very much! Not enough fruit, too much wood…don’t get me started.

But surely, you say, a first growth Bordeaux from a great vintage that is rated that highly…it must be great, right? Thinking back, the only other first growth I have ever tasted was a 1997 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. It was only a few years old at the time and not from a great vintage, but I do remember loving the fruit intensity of that wine. So it should be good, right?

The other issue — mentioned above — is what shape the Margaux will be in. It has followed me in my life’s travels, from when I lived at my parent’s house (where it was stored under the bed), to an appartment (stored in a separate room), to our first house (a cool cellar downstairs) to our current house (another cool cellar downstairs). There is no sign of leakage and the fill looks good for a 30 year wine. So it should be good, right?

Finally, there is the issue of expectations. I have only tried a wine that was that highly rated once in my life — the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage de Beaucastel by Chateau de Beaucastel. Had it at the Vancouver International Wine Festival a few years ago at a tasting…it was rated 100 by Parker and it was amazing! Pure Grenache-flavoured fruit, incredibly long finish, rich and pure…

But what if I am disappointed? What if it is off, or even just average? Is it worth the risk?

To be honest, I don’t know the answer. But I have had it earmarked for this birthday for over twenty years now.

So…here is what I’m going to do! I will open it — it just makes sense. But I will also have a back up wine, one I know I will love, like a Chateauneuf du Pape or old vine Aussie Shiraz. And if the Margaux is off — or even just average — I am going to switch it up!

I always tell people that life is too short to drink bad wine. Well, given the occaison, I am going to amend that saying and say that life is too short to drink average wine.

I will have a great bottle of wine to go with the Pate de Fois Gras, Duck Confit with mushroom risotto, and raw milk cheeses I am planning for dinner next Wednesday, April 11th. But which one will it be? Stay tuned next week…and find out!




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