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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"
The Joy of the Occasional Big Wine Blowout
28 July 2002

Anyone who starts a wine collection, whether large or small, will accumulate a number of 'special' bottles. These are special for typically a couple reasons, either it's a remembrance of a special event; whether it is a birth, wedding and so on, or because it is a premium wine, and as such special in it's own right.

With the second category of special bottles, the question comes, when do you drink it? Many people keep these bottles for very special occasions. The problem is that if there isn't an occasion deemed big enough then the wine may be in decline before you get around to drinking it.

A couple of weeks ago I had the perfect occasion to bring out a special bottle of wine. This occasion was 'lunch'.

A group of four wine lovers I'd met through the medium of the Internet invited to join them for Friday lunch to share a few bottles of great wine. So I cleared the calendar, arranged public transport and off I went. The food was very good and the wines were spectacular, including 1981 Mouton-Rothschild, 1988 Mount Mary Cabernets, 1990 Henschke Hill of Grace and a 1973 Baileys Vintage Port.

With all of us being paid-up card carrying wine geeks we'd brought our own glasses and notebooks and so the table was full. By the way the Restaurant was fine about us bringing our own glasses, I'll covering this in a bit more depth, including how you can carry the glasses to and from the restaurant safely in the next few weeks.

The afternoon was long and joyous, comparing the relative merits of these stunning wines and none of us regretting that one of our 'special bottles' would be in next week's recycling bin. This was a special occasion, any time great wine is shared in a convivial atmosphere is special in itself.

The notepads may well have been overkill, even I'd agree, but the key elements were there, good wine, good food and good company.

We were the object of some interest from a couple of other tables, perhaps aghast at the perceived expense, and perhaps waste, of all these bottles being drunk, or slightly scornful of those who would bring their own glassware.

But we didn't see it as a waste at all. The wines were compared amongst their peers. All these wine had come from our own cellars, so that $45 for a 1990 Hill of Grace is reasonable value for wine at lunch.

I don't bring out wines like this all the time, more's the pity, but likewise waiting for too long for a 'worthy occasion' may well not be to the benefit to the wine, or to you.

So next time you're looking around the cellar and find those special bottles, and thinking when would be a good time to open them, 'lunch' may just be an occasion special enough.

From the Left Island


© Murray Almond
28 July 2002

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