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By Alex Russell on October 11, 2010 in Other

Photo: Anna Versary

Photo: Anna Versary

A lot of people like to buy a bottle of wine from their baby’s birth year that they can open up on its 18th or 21st birthday. Given that on of the publishers of The Beast (Dan) is about to become a father (congrats), I figured it might be a pretty good time for this advice.

Choosing The Wine
If you’re thinking about table wine, then you’re almost certainly going to go with a red rather than a white. Most whites won’t make it 18 to 21 years, particularly styles like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. If you must choose a white, consider a good Riesling (e.g. Grosset Polish Hill), Semillon or perhaps a Chardonnay.

If you make the smart choice and go for a red, you want a bigger style – something with more structure, especially tannins. Shiraz is a safe bet, Cabernet will certainly do the job and some blends are also worth a shot. Many Pinot Noirs will be gone or on their way out by then. If you don’t mind looking outside of Australia, consider a decent Bordeaux (which is usually a combo of Cabernet, Merlot and a few other related grapes).

Should you buy Grange? Sure, if you can afford it, although the price is rising. Rather than buying one bottle worth about $700, why not buy six or so $50 to $100 bottles instead? You know what they say about eggs and baskets.

Additionally, it’s worth considering fortifieds. Seppeltsfield allows you the opportunity to taste wine from your birth year (they have up to 100 years, so they’ve got you covered). However, fortifieds aren’t for everyone, especially an 18 to 21 year-old.

Many bigger styles take a few years in barrel and bottle before they are released. Grange isn’t usually released for five years after vintage, so there’s no need to go looking straight away. That said, you’re much more likely to find the wines you want in those first few years of your baby’s life than you are when he or she turns 18 or 21.

Also, look at which regions had a good vintage during your baby’s birth year. Bad vintages don’t age well. And consider magnums – bigger bottles age better.

Storing The Wine
Wines should be kept in a cool place away from light. If you can’t keep them somewhere cool, then at least put them in a place where the temperature doesn’t vary very much. There’s no point storing them in a warm room for 18 years – you’re just going to end up with expensive vinegar. If you don’t have an appropriate room, consider a professional facility, like Wine-Ark.

There is a lot of debate around the issue of cork versus screw cap. Corks have their advantages, but they can leak over time. If you have to buy cork, make sure you lay the bottle on its side. The wine will keep the bottom of the cork moist, which will keep it expanded and more airtight.

Finally, make sure the wines are safe. My parents bought Grange from my birth year and came home one night to find my grandfather with a big smile on his face. He said it was delicious.

Some Wines To Consider
If you’re looking at Cabernet and blends, try Cullen Diana Madeleine (Margaret River), Wynn’s John Riddoch (Coonawarra), Moss Wood (Margaret River), Wendouree (Clare) or Yarra Yering Dry Red #1 (Yarra).

If you decide to go for Shiraz, Thomas ‘Kiss’ (Hunter), Brokenwood Graveyard (Hunter), Wendouree, Wynn’s Michael, Rusden Black Guts or Sandscrub (Barossa), Kaesler Old Bastard (Barossa), Best’s (Grampians), Yalumba (Barossa) and Yarra Yering Dry Red #2 are all worth a taste.