Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guest Post - Long-Term Planning: Think Ahead, Enjoy Later.

by Lisette Bralow

The whole process of making, buying, keeping, and sampling wine is kind of a long-term exercise. Back in the old days, wealthy people “laid in” a case of this or a case of that at their mansions in the country, so they would always be able to find something at the last minute to have with supper. Thus came about the habit of having a wine cellar in one’s home, so the butler had a place to hang out.

In more modern times, most of us do not possess these “grand” houses and our basements are filled with old bicycles, old clothes, old projects we will get to someday. If we even have basements—new houses are built on slabs, so people use the garage for storage while parking on the street. And if you live in an apartment, you know all about space limitations. A wine cellar is still a luxury for the wealthy.

Still, if you do have a corner to pile up a case or two, you can start a wonderful family tradition. After our children were born, we went to a top wine store and we bought a case of very good Bordeaux for our anniversary year, and one for each of the children’s birth years. As it happened, our anniversary year—1978—was not a great wine year. And Rob’s birthday year—1983—was okay. But our younger son, Michael, was born in 1989, which was a banner year in France.

We bought good wines that we thought would hold up for 30 years: ’78 Chateau Talbot, ’83 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, and ’89 Chateau Talbot. We stored them carefully in a cool basement. And over the years we have pulled out a bottle here and there for special occasions, special birthdays, graduations, and other major family life events.

What we found is that even in the not-so-hot years, a very good winemaking tradition produces very good wine. All three have held up well, as we opened delightful, full-bodied, delicious wines. I have no doubts that the ’83 and the ’89 will prove to be excellent at upcoming 30th birthday parties and even beyond, if any bottles are left.

Our family has had many wonderful years tasting our “anniversary” wines. If you are starting a family, think about creating a legacy for your young children that you can teach them to appreciate as they mature. As with all other things, if you make some wise investments early on, you’ll enjoy a terrific and fun payoff.

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