At age 75 and with no wine cellar, what to do with her expensive Bordeaux?


It’s time once again to check my email bag for your wine and spirits questions. You can always reach me with your questions at [email protected].

I was given an expensive bottle of Bordeaux from the 2003 vintage. Online research suggests it can be cellared for 20 years, but I do not have a wine cellar. Also, I am 75 years old. While I am hale and hearty now, waiting 20 years does not make much sense to me. Should I sell it, drink it, or re-gift it?

Your query is one of the primary preoccupations of wine collectors everywhere: Drink up, lay down or sell? I say drink it.

Time has a way of sneaking up on wine collectors. In some instances, their enthusiasm, tastes or passions have shifted or faded, or their projections on how well a wine would mature didn’t pan out. Wine cellars should be filled slowly, curated carefully and dipped into frequently.

From what you report, yours is clearly a “fine wine,” and whoever gave it to you presumably intended for the wine to bring you some pleasure. Personally, I’d get more pleasure from consumption than from trying to sell it — also, selling alcohol legally when not already licensed to do so is not as straightforward as you may think. As for re-gifting, I’d be far more likely to open it with friends so that we could enjoy the wine together.

What are people talking about when they reference a wine’s “legs” or “tears” after swirling the wine in the glass?

The so-called “legs” or “tears” are the translucent streaks that cling to the sides of a clean glass of wine. They sometimes appear to climb up the glass a few millimeters, eventually to form patches of film from the thin layer that become more like viscous droplets as it descends to the surface of the wine in the glass.

There are lots of folks who seem to believe — presumably because somebody misinformed them — that these legs are the mark of a wine’s quality. This is a romantic notion, but pure and utter nonsense.

The legs or tears effect is the simply the interaction of a few physical relationships regarding surface tensions — known as interfacial tensions — and evaporation.

I suspect chatter about a wine’s tears and legs became a popular pastime among wine connoisseurs because it is something to look at and comment upon.

What’s good this week?

Thinking about wine that can cellar comfortably for the long haul, but can give pleasure now has prompted me to crack open this high-end beauty:

Château Cantenac Brown, Margaux, France, kosher edition, 2015 ($150): This is simply fabulous — an elegant, nuanced nose that takes time to reveal its treasures of fine blackberry, cranberry, strawberry, sweet plum, bramble, mushroom, cedar, tobacco and new leather aromas, pushing through to a palate of considerable depth, power and complexity; offering additional notes of ripe dark cherry, raspberry, dark plum, mocha, espresso, violet, lavender and licorice.

Though still in its infancy now, the purity, sophistication and overall balance make this, already, an absolute pleasure to drink — though give it two to three hours of decanting if you really can’t wait five years. I estimate it will enter its earliest optimal drinking window around 2023, and then should continue to age gracefully until around 2040, perhaps even longer. Whether I wait that long for the bottles in my cellar is anybody’s guess. L’chaim!

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