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The Ultimate Happy Birthday Wine List

Written by Madeline Puckette

Is there an important birthday is coming up?

Thought so. Have you thought about what your happy birthday wine will be?

Some birthdays are more nostalgic than others. For instance, age 29 marks the end of your 20s (don’t be scared, it gets better). Conversely, some happy birthday wines should be a new experience. Let’s take a look at pairing the right wine with a birthday; the ultimate happy birthday wine list.

Drink one bottle of wine per week?
That’s just 2,964 bottles over your
entire life. Make ’em count!

Starting at age 21 till an average US life expentancy of 78.

The process of finding a great birthday wine can be a delightful challenge, so we’ve outlined what defines each decade and a style of wine that fits rather nicely into that theme. You don’t have to follow the list verbatim, but we hope it gives you inspiration to make your upcoming happy birthday wine awesome.


Life in your 20’s

“Decadent Youth”

No matter how you justify it, you’re going to do a lot of invigorating and stupid things in your 20’s. Why not sprinkle in some of the most memorable wine moments of your life in there too? You might start collecting wine but don’t be surprised when your tastes change. Attempt to cellar your birth year Port wine but don’t fret if you end up drinking it with a midnight quesadilla.

Age 21
You’re lucky if you even drink wine (vs. a blurry night of lemon drop martinis), so even the most modest bottle of wine is a treat. Go for something debonnaire and red, like Mollydooker “The Boxer”.
Your 20’s
No matter what you drink, it’s a statement. Saber a bottle of $9 Cava or blow your hard-earned money on a bottle of Armand de Brignac’s Ace-of-Spades.
Age 29
What was the wine region you fell in love with in the very beginning? Was it Chianti? Côtes du Rhône? Paso Robles?


Life in your 30’s

“Building an Empire”

Whether you’re building a family or actually building an empire (you lil’ entrepreneur you!), your 30’s are a time of industrial growth. While you sharpen your focus on life and work, ‘the pursuit’ wine becomes your ‘secret stash.’ Settling down during this time is pretty common, so buying wine for the future is often part of the plan. Take some advice from us about starting a wine collection

Age 30
When you turn 30, get a red wine that’s about 10 years younger than you. Perhaps a Reserva Rioja, a Napa Hillside Cabernet or a ‘left-bank’ Bordeaux. 100% classy.
Your 30’s
Develop your palate while you relax. Drinking becomes ancillary or a way to punctuate and escape your daily life. Exploring new varieties becomes part of the fun.
Age 39
This is a major Ah-ha moment for many of us. Are you where you thought you’d be 10 years ago? Make silent amends and plan a dinner party – last meal style. You deserve it.


Life in your 40’s

“Do or Die!”

At forty, you know who you are and what you do best. Perhaps you’ve been doing well for yourself over the last 10 years or you’ve been cleverly avoiding it. Because so many changes take place in your physical body during your 40’s, this is the time to take the biggest steps to be where you want to be. It’s ‘do or die’ baby. Also, be sure to pick up about 6 bottles of decent vintage Port and plan to sit on them for a while.

Age 40
Time to whip out the vintage Champagne and hold a few bottles for when you turn 50. If you’re on a diet, don’t worry, Extra-Brut Champagne is only about 110 calories a glass.
Your 40’s
Your 40’s are a little more extravagant than your 30’s. You’ll be drinking more popular varieties like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon with your steaks from the grill.
Age 49
Say adeiu to your 40’s by bringing it back down to earth. Make White Port Tonic cocktails, stock your bar for French 75’s and have a few bottles of dry Provençal Rosé


Life in your 50’s

“Mastering Reality”

At fifty, you’ve done quite a bit with your life. It feels great to stand back and say, “Yep, that’s me.” Retirement is around the corner, but you’re not there yet. This is when you no longer feel the same kind of pressure to grind on the gerbal wheel (like you did 2 decades ago). You can relax and start thinking about the next 2 decades.

Age 50
I don’t care how you pull this off but you need to get one of the top 5 wines to try before you die.
Your 50’s
Drink more low-alcohol red wine like Tannat. Tannat, and wines like it, are starting to hit the US market like a storm. Why? Well, Tannat is the wine the longest-lived people in the world drink.


Life in your 60’s

“Celebration and Rediscovery”

At sixty, something amazing happens: you finally get to do something new! By this time, you’ve accrued a sizable nest-egg and suddenly have boundless time on your hands. Some people watch the days pass by, but most will find there’s so much to do. Every day is more interesting than the one before. Why’d it take so long to have a real renaissance?

Age 60
There’s nothing quite like a well-aged Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo to start this decade off right. Old Italian wines are noted for their greatness as they age (and not in their youth).
Your 60’s
Since this is the time for rebirth, try experimenting. Try a single-variety Petit Verdot or maybe a Lagrein from Alto-Adige. If you travel, drink the local wines. Alfocheiro anyone? (a deeply colored red wine that’s surprisingly common in Portugal)

Life in your 70’s

“Great Wisdom and Acceptance”

At seventy, you have an amazing perspective on life. After all, you’ve lived it. Activities into your seventies are more social, so naturally wine fits in pretty nicely. Your palate, on the other hand, might be a little shot so perhaps focus on wines with serious presence.

Age 70
Vintage Port is one of just a few wines that can age as long as you! Remember those bottles of vintage Port you stored during your 40’s? Open one!
Your 70’s
Port, Sherry and Madeira are great daily drinks into your seventies. Drink more Australian Shiraz, Argentine Malbec and American Syrah.


Life in your 80’s

“Living Legends”

At eighty, everything you do is kind of a big deal: family gatherings take on more meaning, events are important, hell, even walking is kind of a big deal.

Age 80
Get someone to help you open that bottle of Burgundy, happy birthday old chap!
Your 80’s
Drinking in your eighties doesn’t need to be that exact, just remember: white when it’s hot and red when it’s cold out.

Life in your 90’s

“Can’t See. Can’t Taste. Who Cares?!”

At ninety we recommend you drink whatever wine you can get your hands on. Who could deny a 90 year old that $1000 bottle of Premier Cru Bordeaux? Go for it ma.

We couldn’t write this article without advice from every decade: Damon Cortesi, cofounder of; Sandy Hammack, our grammartologist; and Linda and Ron Boltman.

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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