Drinking Your Birth Year? (Rant)

29 Jan

Clue me in, please. Dig deep for a second, and help out a fellow oenophile.

My question for the group: What is with the fascination of drinking one’s birth year?

Drinking your birth year. I don’t understand it, but I have it. I have this primal urge, evidently like many others. When Brad Dixon, Sommelier at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa offered me my birth year in wine I stopped cold for a moment, and considered it seriously, against the other wines I was salivating to taste. (I declined and chose something else.) When I receive an email that offers fine wines from my birth year (evidently a lousy year for wine in Bordeaux but decent in Piedmont) I get excited, just by seeing the vintage, without caring who the winemaker is, without knowing the grape, or the region. I consider spending high (nearly silly) dollar amounts for wines I have zero interest in except that they are from a time in my life when my concerns were quite few.

So far, I have yet to succumb to this urge. 

What is it about drinking your birth year? Perhaps knowing that the winemaker was creating, parenting the grapes and crafting something precious, in the very same way we imagine our parents spoke to us in utero, prepared cribs and onesies, and tried to lay groundwork for a good aging process?

Some of the older wines I’ve tasted have been stunning. A few have been total disasters. My birth year would be older than most wines I have enjoyed, and as a questionable vintage, it could be a real disaster. Yet this mystery remains…why is it so compelling?

Share your thoughts- I’d love to know what you think about drinking one’s birth year.


If you’ve ever had the pleasure, can you share your experience? 



à votre santé!


5 Responses to “Drinking Your Birth Year? (Rant)”

  1. the drunken cyclist January 30, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    I was going to say that you must have been born in a crappy year! My birth year was well above average in both Champagne and Bordeaux, so for me, it will be fun drinking them on my upcoming “big” year (when your age ends in a 0). You are still a young pup, but when you age and you realize that more than likely there are fewer years ahead of you than are behind, drinking a birth year wine is a bit like the fountain of youth in an odd way.

    Unless you were born in a crappy year. Then you are just screwed….


    • jimvanbergen January 30, 2015 at 11:05 am #

      I appreciate being called a young pup, it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve been called that so I know its relative, especially as I look at what wines I’m stocking to be able to serve at my 50th birthday. My kids are teenagers, one is looking at college and we started late. 🙂
      I guess it may be time to plunk down the cash and give my birth year a shot if I can find the “best” wine from my vintage. I recall several sage oenophiles suggesting that older wines are just as often a waste of time, so I’m trying to balance these thoughts (and others) in my mind.


  2. the winegetter January 29, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Just in time for my Traditions post in #MWWC14, where I disclosed that Nina gets to drink an 87 every year. 🙂 There is definitely a fascination there, I think it hinges on the fact that wines are bridges into the past (another topic I have explored on my blog, http://thewinegetter.com/2013/04/30/aged-wines-are-like-old-friends/ ). You mention pretty good reasons in your own post. I have had one wine from my birth year, a terrifyingly bad year in Germany, Italy, South Africa, pretty much anywhere. And the wine had been dead for many years by the time I tried it. And still there was a thrill that comes with opening a time capsule, which essentially is a bottle of wine. Folks our age are probably better off going straight for the dessert wines or ports of our birth year….:)


    • jimvanbergen January 30, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      That’s an excellent point, I’m sure I could find a dessert wine from my birth year from France that rocks. And the Italian options are pretty interesting, but maybe it is simply the time capsule angle that is most fascinating…I would also be concerned about the provenance of any wine as old as I am. More to consider!

      Liked by 1 person

      • the winegetter January 30, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

        Don’t forget those German BAs and TBAs, should still be good!


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