If you’ve only got one bottle of a special wine, do you drink it or hold it?
I'm often asked that question, and I have a couple of thoughts that merit consideration the next time you’re facing that dilemma.
Once, just after I’d moved to Napa, a heatwave hit and I worried about my small cache of wines—each bottle was unique. Would they cook?
First, I put them in my dresser drawer under a pile of shirts and socks. But then I decided I’d be better off keeping them in the refrigerator for a few days, which is what I did. The wines were fine when I drank them.
My most memorable experience with a single bottle happened in northeastern Italy, in Collio, Friuli. A vintner named Gradimar Gradnik offered me a bottle of his Picolit, a rare, prized, slightly sweet dessert-style wine made from the white grape that is its namesake.
As I visited with his daughter, Wanda Gradnik, I asked Gradimar about the Picolit. He described how important it was to the region and to their historic winery and then concluded that this was the perfect wine to sip in your pajamas while watching TV. (I have a witness to this exchange; I wonder if Matt Kramer, seated next to me, recalls this episode).
Wanda blushed, clearly embarrassed, and we both laughed as we tried to picture how the thick-fisted, barrel-chested man must have looked lounging in his PJs with a glass of wine in his hand, watching TV.
I kept the bottle and brought it back home. I set it aside, waiting for the right moment to open it. I tried to think if I’d ever drunk wine in my pajamas, and I don’t think I ever have. Finally, I opened it at a dinner party with an Italian theme, and we enjoyed it after the meal, while still dressed in our civvies.
From then on, I have more or less decided that it’s best to open your single bottles of wine rather than cellar them—especially if you really don’t know much about the wine and what it tastes like.
Surely, there’s nothing wrong with sitting on a bottle for the right occasion. But my reasoning, and what I tell those who ask for my advice, is that you’re better off knowing what that one bottle tastes like. Because if you really love the wine, you’ll likely have a better shot of buying another one than if you wait a decade.
If it turns out you merely like the wine, well, that too is valuable information. You’ll know you've spared yourself the suspense of aging a wine only to be disappointed.
I’m curious how you deal with the one bottle dilemma.
Peter Czyryca — November 10, 2006 3:05pm ET
Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — November 10, 2006 3:16pm ET
J Paul Jackson — Dyersburg, TN — November 10, 2006 3:51pm ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — November 10, 2006 5:15pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — November 10, 2006 7:24pm ET
Claude Pope — Raleigh, NC — November 10, 2006 8:33pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 10, 2006 8:41pm ET
Jj Gallagher — Near Napa, Ca — November 10, 2006 9:23pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 10, 2006 9:52pm ET
David Nerland — Scottsdale — November 10, 2006 10:04pm ET
Steve Lenzo — PHX, AZ — November 10, 2006 10:47pm ET
Robert Mathews — November 10, 2006 11:53pm ET
James Peterson — San Antonio, Texas — November 11, 2006 3:43am ET
Ted A Hunt — Fort Lauderdale, Fl — November 11, 2006 9:11am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 11, 2006 7:16pm ET
Joseph Romualdi — Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada — November 11, 2006 7:24pm ET
Robert Fukushima — California — November 11, 2006 8:52pm ET
Arne Skog — Kenmore, WA — November 11, 2006 9:30pm ET
Ted A Hunt — Fort Lauderdale, Fl — November 12, 2006 7:38am ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — November 13, 2006 10:39am ET
Bert Pinheiro — Baltimore Maryland — November 13, 2006 12:58pm ET
John B Vlahos — Cupertino Ca. — November 13, 2006 1:21pm ET
Paul Manchester — Santa Cruz, CA — November 13, 2006 1:27pm ET
Gerard Buffo — Hartford, CT, USA — November 13, 2006 2:31pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 13, 2006 4:18pm ET
Joseph Karpowicz — Stony Brook, NY — November 14, 2006 9:35pm ET
Ted A Hunt — Fort Lauderdale, Fl — November 15, 2006 8:25am ET
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