Sunday, May 29, 2005

Drinking the best wine first

It has long been our philosophy to find a wine we like, buy a case and drink it immediately. There is something twice sad about cellaring wine – first, the delayed pleasure of turning grapes into wine; and second, the deferred pleasure of letting the wine gather dust and (usually) lose flavor moldering away in some sad corner of the house.

Despite this, we occasionally acquired bottles of fine wine that seemed too good for the times we were living in. So we tucked it away for the right occasion, which of course never came. Before leaving for Europe, however, we determined to drink every single bottle of wine in our house before we left. Given the number of social functions that filled our final weeks, this was not as difficult to accomplish as you might imagine.

The findings from these experiments in forced consumption were as follows:
  1. Approximately 1 out of 5 bottles that we had cellared for 10 years or more tasted better than we thought it would. The rest tasted worse (usually substantially worse), confirming our basic wine acquisition prejudices (this is in keeping with one of the most basic tenets of science, the “law of least surprise,” that the purpose of an experiment is to confirm existing prejudices – see Occam’s Razor).
  2. Forget admonitions to “die broke.” Our new life objective is to die with an empty cellar.