We had a tradition at the Teahouse Kuan Yin every Christmas Eve. We closed early at 5pm, and then all the employees would enjoy a vintage port tasting with appropriate hors d’oeuvres. It was my holiday gift to my employees, along with Christmas bonuses.
At one of these, I tasted a 1968 Reserve Tawny Port by Warres which I really liked. It tasted of walnuts and honey and other rich flavors. Like baklava in a bottle. I went back to the wine store and bought a bottle to hang onto as long as I could. I would save it for an occasion suitably momentous. It was bottled about 25 years already when I bought it. I think it cost $42 back then. A lot of money for a bottle of wine, even now.
The Perfect Present
Since so many people have everything they need by the time they officially tie the knot — sometimes doubles of everything — I like to give a bottle of port as a wedding present, with the proviso that it not be opened until the happy couple’s 10th anniversary. (If they split up before that, they’re supposed to give it back…) Anybody can get married, but staying together deserves celebration.
Although I myself married twice since I bought that ’68 port, both were/are nondrinkers, so those didn’t seem to be the right occasions for me. I would wait. I kept holding off and holding off. I kept the bottle on its side and at an even temperature in the pantry. This was really good stuff: I was going to wait for the perfect moment.
Finally: Matching Milestones
I finally decided that my latest birthday was long enough. The port was 50, I was 60, all very milestoney. I collected nice little port glasses from various thrift stores so everyone at my birthday celebration would be able to drink this elixir in a modicum of style. I had waited so long. I had been disciplined! That port deserved respect. Better drink it while I still can and while it still can be.
No doubt you can see where this is headed. I uncorked the bottle and could see a wisp of feathery mold on the cork. I sniffed the bottle…it was not vinegar, at least. But had it held? I poured it out for everyone, and toasts were made, and we all sipped. But there was an off flavor in it.
I had waited a quarter of a century. Oh, well. C’est la vie.
Now, I knew that tawny ports don’t age as well or as long as vintage red ports. I knew there might be this chance that it would not be what it might have been. But are any of us?
The Present Is Perfect
Which brings me to my point. Especially for those of us who are over 50, if there is something you have been saving, putting off, holding out for: do it now, if you can. Crack that bottle and enjoy it now. Take that trip. Start that project. Whatever it is that you are waiting for — that right time? It’s now.
I’m not advocating going off on a spending spree or being ridiculous — moderation and prudence in all things, of course. Some things are just pipe dreams, some things you’ll never have the money for, some things you’ve missed that chance for because of health or duty.
But if there is a bottle of wine you’ve been saving, or a place you want to visit, or a book you’ve always meant to start writing, or a person you have been waiting to be, kept carefully bottled up inside you…
Take a chance: the time is NOW. What are you waiting for? Uncork it already!