Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Godfather Part IV - should I be laying down some Dom. Corleone?

‘I’ve just become a father/godfather – aren’t I supposed to stash away some wine or some port for the little sprog?’

I get asked a question like this a number of times a year, and I still haven’t settled on a definitive answer to the question. The wino in me says that anyone would be overwhelmed with gratitude to receive a couple of cases of something mature and tasty as they pass into adulthood. But then there’s another bit of me that says, ‘Whoa, whoa, hang on a minute, squire.’ It asks me what I would have done had my dad/godfather presented me with a dozen old bottles on my 18th birthday. Yes, I drank wine then, but I don’t think I’d have been too bothered which vintage it was from, as long as it didn’t taste of meths and make me go blind. I seriously doubt whether any would have been left even a week later.

It then starts asking me whether I wouldn’t be better off investing the £250, £1,000, £5,000, whatever sum I had in mind, until a much later date when it became clear whether or not little Janet/John (or Topsy/Tim, if you are slightly younger than me) actually enjoyed wine. If s/he didn’t, then I could buy something else. If s/he did, then I’d have a much larger kitty to play with. Yes, some wines do rise in value over time, but judging by past performance, hardly any will outpace the stockmarket, the price of housing, even a decent cash ISA.

And that’s before you take into account the rather important matter of whether you want to fork out several years rent to a specialist company for storage space in their temperature-controlled warehouse. For those of you in the fortunate position of having suitable space at home, the situation is still not perfect. You have to make sure little Johnny's inheritance is safe from prying hands, and not just those of devious adolescents. Many wine lovers have tales of how they opened that precious bottle of Château Eau de Singe in the wee small hours long after their taste buds and sensibility had retired to bed.

Another thing. Not everyone actually likes the taste of old wine – some do, some don’t. One person’s ‘wonderfully mellow’ is another’s ‘old cupboards’. If you do end up spending the kitty on wine, you can buy a bit of old stuff and some younger stuff too – few wines are better at age 18 than they were at age 8.

I guess that bottom line is that while I don’t want to put you completely off the idea of laying down wine for future generations, just don’t go mad.

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