Enjoying Wine While You Still Can

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - May 23, 2007
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I’ve had similar conversations recently with a few people, so it has sparked my interest.

It all has to do with wine and death. I wonder what people do with their vinous treasures once they pass on from this life. And if people are storing up these fabulous wines, when are they going to drink them?

Are they waiting until after they die? Or do they have some special premonition of when they are going to die and save a date to drink all the wines up?

Or are they saving these wines for a “deathbed” wish drink just before they kick the proverbial bucket?

I find it interesting to ask people about what they will do with their own wine. One of my friends tells me that if she knows she’s going to die, she wants to go on a cruise. I think she wants to sail on the Queen Mary Two, of course. And on that cruise she wants to have an absolutely decadent dinner with a fabulous old bottle of La Romanee Conti. And when she is full and done drinking the wine, she will say her farewell to her loved ones and jump over the side!

That’s it, in a blaze of glory.

Georg Riedel, of the wineglass-making family, has actually chosen the wines he wants his family to serve at his funeral. It was a bit eerie to gaze upon the cases of wine to be served shortly after his last breath.

But Georg is nothing if not a person who plans for eventualities, so it goes without saying that he has already planned these wines. I cannot remember what was in the wooden cases, but I do remember seeing a huge bottle, perhaps a Nebuchadnezzar (15 liters) of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Meeting Georg and imagining how many people he knows, he may actually need to plan for more wine.

Another friend likes to say that he wants his wife to throw a big party, with the rest of his wines, for all his friends he leaves behind. I’m not sure how that’s going to go. I imagine I’ll still be around; he is 20 years my senior, but I don’t think I could “party” after he goes. But if he insists, I know that there will be some seriously good libations drunk in his memory.

Imagine what kind of party some of those HUGE collectors could throw with all the thousands of bottles of wine they have amassed.

Of course, I know exactly what happens to those wines. They either are bequeathed to the person’s inheritors or they are auctioned off. These sales benefit their families, and sometimes can benefit some charity or foundation, which is really great.

On rare occasions they just end up left in the same cellar for many years until another generation takes an interest in wine and actually finds some aged specimens long after the purchaser is gone.

If you like aged wines, there are definitely wines that need to be aged. But if you have the great wines of the world, drink them, share them and enjoy them! You can’t take them with you.

And what’s more important than if the wine is ready, is if you are.


A couple of wines to die for: 2005 Henry’s Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz $27 Heavy, rich, block busting fruit melted with sweet vanilla and cedar. Mouth-coating and teeth-staining.

2005 Chotard Sancerre $22 Clean mineral, pure, crisp, refreshing, everything anyone would want in a light white.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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