Buying birth-year wines for your children is not something I recommend. Sure, it’s a thoughtful, loving gesture that your son or daughter may well appreciate when that special occasion comes along years from now, when he or she graduates from college or marries.
But there are many other wine-related gift options I think readers should consider, some of which I’ve outlined previously. One recent reader asked my thoughts on storing a case of 2005 Lewis Reserve and 2005 Far Niente for a wedding rehearsal dinner in 20 to 30 years.
There are plenty of wines that are built to age 20 to 30 years, chief among them Vintage Port, or dessert wines, such as Sauternes or German Rieslings of the Beerenauslese or Trockenbeereneauslese style. I’d also consider great vintages of Bordeaux and, to be fair, many wines can make the long haul provided they’re impeccably stored. I wouldn’t bet on the Lewis, but Far Niente might make it. From California, I’d look to wines with track records for aging, such as Beringer Private Reserve, Phelps Insignia or Araujo Eisele.
I bought and cellared wines for my children and so did many of my friends. These now young adults have been treated to some nice, mature wines, but also some marginal offerings. But the key, it seems to me, is what do you want to accomplish, aside from having a wine with a birth-year vintage date on it? Do you want to teach your children the right way to appreciate wine? When do you expect they might actually begin to enjoy wine? And how do you guess which kind of wine they’ll like, if they even like it at all?
I think you’re better off cellaring a few wines once your child reaches a wine-drinking age. That way he or she might remember the day you took them to the wine store and bought it with him. Another good idea: Set aside a case from a high school or college graduation date, which commemorates one of their accomplishments, not yours. You could even splurge and offer to send Junior on a wine trip as a way of showing them the good life—once the diploma is in hand …
Cellaring birth-year wines for Junior is fine. But consider other options as well.