Staying Home: A Wine-Filled Birthday in Lockdown
Associate editor Gillian Sciaretta is based in New York.

Staying Home: A Wine-Filled Birthday in Lockdown

Our editors share the wines and memorable moments, such as a family party, that are helping brighten dark times

Apr 23, 2020

Normally on my birthday, I like to celebrate with family and close friends by going out to a nice restaurant to devour delicious food and taste incredible wines. Needless to say, that option was off the table this year. People who are marking their birthdays while sheltering in place, like myself, are finding it challenging to get into a festive spirit with all of the solemn news and events taking place around the world.

A part of me felt guilty for wanting to celebrate it. But thinking about it more, I realized that, now more than ever, we need to embrace any and every happy occasion. So for this “lockdown” birthday, I decided we only had one choice: Go big and stay home.

For me, “going big” involved selecting three bottles from the cellar that meant something special to me, then enjoying them with my husband and parents throughout the afternoon and into the evening because, well, we had no place else to be.

First up was a bubbly, the Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne Rare 2002, the house’s richly styled prestige cuvée and one of my all-time favorites. This sparkling wine is dominated by Chardonnay, sourced entirely from the Montagne de Reims region, and undergoes full malolactic fermentation and extended bottle aging, both of which add to the intensity of the flavor profile. It was golden, powerful, smoky and packed with flavors of brioche, honey, spice and lemon preserves. I adore the bottle design created by Parisian jeweler Arthus-Bertrand so much so that the intricate golden-laced pattern was the inspiration for my wedding cake.

Continuing with the wedding-memories theme, I pulled a bottle of the white wine we served to our guests that special day: the Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre 2013. I was delighted that the seven-year-old Sauvignon Blanc was not only still alive but singing. The salty acidity and flinty undertones were more prominent than I remembered, but there were still hallmark gooseberry and citrus flavors to balance it all out. The wine was just as much a hit as on our wedding day in 2015.

A bottle of Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 1999 and a full wine glass in front of two rock album covers
A classic wine rocks when celebrating milestones with family. (Gillian Sciaretta)

For the grand finale, my parents generously opened a wine that resonates with so many wine lovers: Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia from Italy’s Bolgheri region. Sassicaia gave me my first wine “ah-ha!” moment almost 10 years ago, and I am eternally grateful for that. This Cabernet Sauvignon–Cabernet Franc blend was from the 1999 vintage, and it was stunning. I decanted it in order to allow the 21-year-old wine to open up more. The tannins were silky smooth and encased the seamless black fruit, leather, cedar and iron notes.

While sipping on our Sassicaia, we enjoyed a birthday cake my mom made for me. Was it the perfect, classic pairing? Absolutely not. But on this birthday, sitting among my family, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.


Have your own wine story from recent weeks? Whether it’s pulling a special bottle from the cellar or enjoying a glass of a great value that you stockpiled, whether you shared it with close friends and family or savored it on your own, we want to hear from you. Share what you're drinking with us on our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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