Wine & Spirits

Wine & spirits: Perfect bubbly

Wine & spirits: Perfect bubbly Author: Style At Home

Wine & Spirits

Wine & spirits: Perfect bubbly

Your niece just announced she's getting married, and you want to give the newlyweds a heartfelt gift that will last - something they can enjoy on their fifth, 10th, 25th or even 50th anniversary. Most people think of wine as a casual gift that doesn't have lasting power, but this is one beverage that can outlive its producer. Some bottles can age more than a century, and not only improve with time, but need it. Opening a "vintage" beauty before its time is akin to robbing the cradle. Instead of giving a case of one brand, put together a collection of bottles that can be enjoyed over many years. Include as many or as few bottles as you wish. Select wines for significant anniversaries and, if the couple plan to have children, one to celebrate the arrival of their first-born. For an extra-special touch, attach a pretty neck tag with your continuing good wishes to each bottle, along with a recommendation from your wine merchant for when to open it.
   
What can you buy, confident that it will still be alive when it's opened? Reach for classics that have staying power, much like blue-chip stocks. You can't go wrong with champagne. In my view, there's no such thing as a lousy brand when buying the real deal - bubblies from the Champagne region of France. For the excitement of that first anniversary, choose a "non-vintage" rosé, such as Möet & Chandon Brut Rosé ($71*) or Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin Brut Rosé ($77).

If the couple intend to have a family, add "vintage" champagne for when they become new parents. Since some people wait to have children, these bubblies must survive until the time is just right. Dom Pérignon 1999 ($210) and Louis Roederer Cristal 2000 ($265) are delicious and can age for decades, but I'm sure potential grandparents hope the joyous occasion comes along sooner rather than later!

For year five, try reds or whites from Burgundy, which tend to shine at half a decade. Look for classic reds from Beaune, Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint Georges or Pommard, and respected producers like Boisset, Bouchard Père et Fils, Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot or Domaine Leroy. Bottles cost $25 and up.

The 10th year calls for top-rank classics: wines from the premium châteaux of Bordeaux; Cabernet blends from Australia; Meritage wines from California; Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello or Chianti Riserva from Italy; or the Rieslings of Germany's Mosel River Valley. Prices range from $25 to $1,000.

The 25th anniversary is an opportunity to open a Canadian Riesling icewine at its peak of development. Burnished amber gold in colour, it will display a richness and complexity to parallel the couple's deepening relationship. For guaranteed longevity, only buy Riesling. A 375 mL bottle costs $40 to $70.

Few wines have the mettle to last for 50 years, but fortified wines do, and the fi nest of them is vintage port. It's only produced in great years, bottled two years after harvest. The best vintage ports, like Fonseca, Graham's, Niepoort, Taylor Fladgate and Warre's, will last more than a century. Prices start at $50. Give any of these bottles 20 years before drinking.

(*Prices are for 750 mL bottles, except where listed.)

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Wine & Spirits

Wine & spirits: Perfect bubbly