Liquid Love Letter: Birth Year Wine

<p>Courtesy of Unsplash | Photo by Lucas Law</p><p>Winemakers sometimes point out that they have just one chance a year to get it right. One vintage, they mean, to turn the fruit of the harvest into wines that reflect the sum total of that year’s conditions, challenges and bounty.</p><p>Which means that most winemakers, if winemaking is their life-long career path, generally have 30 or 40 vintages (sometimes more) to “get it right.” </p><p>One of those vintages was particularly meaningful… for you.</p><p>We’re talking about “birth year” wines, that is, wines that were produced during the year of your birth. It’s a fun and sentimental tradition for wine enthusiasts: to collect wines from the year of their own birth, to gift wines from the birth year of friends or their children, and to celebrate a birthday (theirs or someone else’s) by opening one of these birth-year bottles.</p><p>It’s a meaningful gesture that secures the memory of the gift and the giver, for life. The winemaker from Sardinia, for example, who gave me a bottle from my birth year, which happened to coincide with the first vintage he ever made. Or the friends of my parents, serious wine collectors, who gave me two bottles to commemorate the birth of my twins. </p><p>Lovely, generous gestures.</p><p>Yet the significance isn’t only the occasion of giving the birth year wine. It is also the occasion we decide to open it. The birth year wine for my twins? Maybe we’ll open it together the year they turn 21. The Sardinian wine from the year of my birth? Maybe it’s already reached its peak, and the pleasure will lie more in the opening (and reflecting on that particular year) than in the wine itself. </p><p>With birth year wines, the topic of “age worthy” takes on a whole new meaning. Maybe make a plan to track down a birth year wine for yourself on the occasion of your next birthday, or the birthday of someone meaningful to you. Matthew has some suggestions for you. Mark the occasion with some conversation around what “age worthy” means to you.</p>
<p>Courtesy of Unsplash | Photo by Annie Spratt</p><p>Have you had the pleasure to sit down with a bottle of wine that was grown the year you were born? </p><p>It's a magical thing we are able to do in the wine drinking world. Aligning our personal growth history with that of an agricultural product that was raised up and elaborated into bottled alchemy that can withstand the test of time.</p><p>Is it good?</p><p>Good is subjective.</p><p>Some people love young and fresh wines, and good on them for enjoying them! </p><p>Some people love the tertiary qualities that wine gains as it ages. The fruit will integrate, dissipate, and earth tones come into focus. </p><p>What makes a wine age-able?</p><p>1. Acidity 2. Tannic Structure 3. Sweetness</p><p>Find you a wine with high marks in two of those three categories, lay it down for decades, and watch the alchemy set in.</p><p>How do I know if my birth year was any good for wine?</p><p>Well, simply put, it has to do with output levels. Good crops tend to come in good years, which allows wineries to make a strong yield of wine. These days we have had many decades of watching wines from the 1960s-1990s in their evolution and it's pretty easy to say which vintages lived long enough. I am of the mind set that if a well made wine was stored in a dark cold place for many years without being moved, the liklihood of it aging well is very high.</p><p>Finding available bottles of vintage wines has become more and more challenging in the last few years, pricing also continues to rise. Look to lesser known regions, from smaller producers. Take risks, drop a few bucks and learn about a wine you'd never heard of. Time and darkness can right the wrongs of a wine sent to banish in a cold bottle all along for many many moons. </p><p>Today happens to be my birthday, and my birth year of 1983 has always been over-shadowed by 1982. I've been tapping into many bottles from 1983 over the last 20 years and I've yet to find any duds. </p><p>Happy birth year drinking!</p>