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5 Wines To Try Before You Die

Written by Madeline Puckette

Everything. Everywhere. Ends.

Your time here eventually comes to an end regardless of your past successes, failures or significant events. You’re going to die.

It’s time to close your eyes and review your wine priorities, a little self check. Doing good so far? Is there anything you’d still like to try before you kick the bucket? Most people say they regret what they didn’t do rather than what they did. It’s time to drink and be merry. This is the definitive short list of wines to try before you die.

Regrets Not Trying High End Champagne

Five Wines To Try Before You Die

These 5 wines have been lusted after by all wine-loving-kind; from prestigious Bordeaux to inky Australian Shiraz.

1. First & Second Growth Bordeaux

The flatlands along the Garonne in Bordeaux are the birthplace of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Lust for wines from this region peak during spring presales (aka en primeur) from the great estates in the Medoc. In 1855, Bordeaux classified all the wine producers from the best-to-the-worst creating the cru classification system which (awkwardly) still stands today. So what do the most exalted wines in the world taste like? 1st growths are exorbitantly priced compared to a 2nd or 3rd growth, while the experience between the three cru classes is very similar. Make sure to look for a bottle that’s been aged for at least 10 years.

Heitz Cabernet

2. Classic Napa Cabernet

Prohibition nearly killed the budding wine business in the United States. After the repeal of prohibition, wineries were slow to recover and most producers made low-quality bulk wines. Fortunately, in 1976 an impassioned English wine merchant was determined to prove Napa’s potential. The man, Steven Spurrier, organized a blind tasting in France and included Napa Cabernet with Bordeaux 1st and 2nd growths. The tasting, now referred to as the “Judgement of Paris” gave Napa County well-deserved street cred.

Cabernet Sauvignon is Napa’s flagship grape. Unlike Bordeaux, California wines list the grape varietal if the wine contains 75% or more. Listed below are a few Napa Cabernets that have stood the test of time

Cristal 2002 100 point wine

3. Vintage Champagne

From sitting on the front stoop to getting ready to go out on the town, Champagne has a way of making every experience feel fancy. If normal Champagne has this effect, vintage Champagne is the extreme. The quality difference of average tasty bubbly to the sensuous creaminess of barrel-aged vintage Champagne is startling.


4. Vintage Port or 40 year Tawny Port

Classic cars are dripping with culture and history. It’s easy to imagine what life might have been like when the car was new, a nostalgia for things that were. In the same respect, an old record can set the mood of an era, while old magazines provide a snapshot to a moment in time. So what about drinking a really old bottle of wine?

Vintage port goes through a dull period in the first 10-12 years after its release, then it starts to improve. After 40-50 years it becomes something that not only tastes amazing but also offers a glimpse into the past. You’ll find yourself looking at a bottle and feeling deeply connected to its history. From when it was produced, to its life in the cellar, everything that has happened in its lifetime.


5. Barossa Shiraz

The wine world is susceptible to current fads and fashion. Every ten years or so the market flips between bold, rich wines and elegant wines based on people’s tastes. While South Australia produces both styles, they are one of the few regions capable of producing the boldest, richest wines in the world.

Drinking Australian Shiraz is like taking a cannon ball to the face. You have to try it at least once.

Written byMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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