Wine lends itself to a fair number of preconceived notions, especially when it comes to the right way (and time) to enjoy it. I was quite bemused when the general manager of a prominent Bordeaux château recently mentioned a rather controversial (and extravagant) guilty pleasure: a cocktail of Champagne and Sauternes—specifically, one part Dom Pérignon, one part Château d'Yquem. This reminded me that our attitude toward wine—and its preciousness—could stand to be loosened up a bit, no matter what we have on hand.
If you're like me, you have many wines in your collection that you've been holding onto because there never seems to be a right place and a right time. I'm telling you: The place is here, and the time is now. If people use the last day of a calendar year to party like there's no tomorrow, it's certainly enough of an excuse for you to pop those bottles that you've been eyeing for so long.
Age is always a concern for wine lovers. You may have a wine you have been storing for a while, but are unsure whether it will still show well. Maybe it wasn't stored in ideal conditions, or it could be past its peak. This makes you hesitant to open it for company. But what's the worst that could happen? It will either be a nice surprise or an educational wine experience. Go ahead and open it! (And maybe have a back-up bottle handy …)
On the other side of the age issue, do not be afraid to commit "wine infanticide." You might have a bottle you've been aging for a little while already, but that may not yet have reached its optimal "peak." Even so, it should still show beautifully now. Have a decanter on hand in case it needs help opening up, and just remember that part of the pleasure in wine is discovering it at all stages of its evolution.
The toughest wines for me to open are bottles from my absolute favorite producers. But if the people you are with on New Year's Eve are special, I say go ahead, open these wines and share the story of why you love them. Your friends will appreciate you for it, and there is nothing quite like sharing those bottles with loved ones. We all evaluate a friendship with someone according to which wines we would be willing to open for them, right? Just me?
Sometimes, specific vintages are special to us, and we hold onto them for many reasons. Unless you are holding long-aging wines for a milestone birthday or anniversary, remember that the vintage will always be important to you no matter when you drink it. So go for it, ring in 2017 by recalling some of your best memories.
Oh, and that magnum that's been collecting dust at the back of your cellar? No matter what it may be, pop it! Having a big (or small) group over is the perfect occasion.
What will you be opening this New Year's Eve? Any exciting wines you are finally letting go of?