Question about excessibe balla nights

There have been a few posts about excessive dinners with anywhere upto 20 high end trophy wines being opened, some people feel this is excessive and showing off. Now I understand why some people could think this although personally I am envious but do not in any way mind these nights and I love hearing about them.

My question relates to the source of these wines. Thirty years ago on my first visit to the wine world it was relatively affordable for a middle class person to buy what are now millionaire trophy wines like the first growths, DRC, etc. so my question is which of the following is mostly true.

a) Did the people enjoying these night mostly purchase these now mega costly wines a long time ago when prices were much more realistic

b) Are these nights held by millionaires who can afford to drop the $1000 -$10,000 that some of these wines cost at current retain/auction prices.

I know that if I had been a lot smarter and more insightful in my twenties I could have easily built a cellar that now when drunk would be eliciting the same type of response, unfortunately I was neither !!!

The other point is that I am now learning from this mistake and trying to build a cellar that could easily have the same reaction in twenty years, with the now unattainable price of trophy wines who is to say that in the future a night of Saxum, Montebello, Alban etc could not easily be viewed as excessive consumption by the wine drinkers of that time.

I have no idea how people do it - drink that many wines in one night.
But I have zero problem that they do it.
For me, it’s entertaining reading.

Whether they purchased wines decades ago or recently, to me, is irrelevant since people are allowed to do whatever they want with their money.

I don’t get why anyone thinks they are ‘showing off’ and really so what if they are.
The way I see it is that they are enthusiastically sharing their experience.
Isn’t that what wine is all about at some level, sharing?

Conspicuous consumption?
Sure why not!
Do whatever pleases you!
It’s all good. [cheers.gif]

I guess the trick is separating the balla from the bling!



Totally agree with your sentiments

Not the sort of event I tend to go to but random thoughts are:

  • if each person brings a single bottle, then I could see how it becomes a cheaper way to sample a range of $$$'y bottles. I have very few top level prestigious wines in the cellar, but many people so have a smattering, whilst others might feel happy to ‘buy-in’ for the overall experience.

  • Such events can be an occasional super-highlight to a serious hobby, or they can be conspicuous consumption / showing off, and anything in between. Indeed it might be that attendees have very different perspectives.

  • Too many prestigious wines can sometimes make for a loss of perspective. Many prestigious wines are somewhat ‘shouty’. They demand attention and this can lead to clashes, or just losing some of the perspective on what makes the wine special. Set against more typical wines of the region, the prestigious wine may have a better setting to show why it has attained it’s reputation.

  • Wine contains alcohol (duh!) and after a certain number of bottles our sense are compromised. At many sit down tastings with food, I see numerous occasions where people can’t remember what a later wine tasted like, or even sometimes forget they tasted it.

  • Personally I often find too many wines makes it confusing, or at best I feel rushed over something I’d normally rather spend more time with: sniffing, swirling, sniffing, letting the aromas emerge and take form, maybe waiting 5 mins to even taste it. Out of preference I would definitely lean towards 1 bottle to 6 people, but the tendency is to have more wines, so less wine per person.


Only speaking for myself.
I have a hard time with pours of less than 1/10 of a bottle, so my ‘baller’ tastings (a few times a year) are limited to that number. Generally people bring 2 bottles, a primary and a backup in case the primary is shot. Often we go through a bunch of the secondary stuff, so I’d guess for these kinds of tastings, it’s 1.5 bottles a person (you don’t always finish everything, some things are shot and gone, etc).

My favorite ‘tastings’ have 6 people with maybe 7-8 bottles. You get more of everything.
These kinds of tastings allow you to pay for the bottle (or bottles) you’re bringing, but also sample many different and very interesting bottles. They’re actually quite an economical way to try the greatest wines in the world.
And what kind of a loser wants to drink alone??

In terms of pricing, the only difference between purchased now or sourced a long time ago is the bid/offered spread for fine wine (20%?). I pay the offered side to source wine now (vs staying in cash), vs I can sell wine purchased years ago on the Auction Bid Side.

Finally if anyone wants to do anything else, if someone owns a pallet of '90 La Tache and wants to throw it off a cliff, I have zero issue. It’s your stuff, you do whatever makes you happy…

I’m with Ian on the above two points. Which ultimately leads me to the same conclusion as Peter Hirsch:

When I bring a pricey bottle it’s almost always one I’ve been cellaring since it was affordable. In terms of motivation, I’ll admit to a little ego and desire for others to be impressed, but mostly it’s about sharing with friends and the wine being loved for what’s in the glass rather than what’s on the label or how much it’s worth.

I’m with Peter and David on this thought: I prefer a smaller group, larger quantities. If I’m popping trophy wines, I do not want just a small pour. I want a full glass and more to appreciate over the course of the evening, especially as some of these wines show differently 1, 2 and 3 hours into the evening. For that reason, I do not even go to these super-tasting events or these so-called baller nights - I just cannot appreciate the wine at the level it deserves when the pours are small and bottles turned over fast. I did a big night recently at Berns - 6 of us with about 9 bottles over a 5+ hour evening. The pace was perfect, the wine pours were large and carried well into the evening, the consumption was high but not so high for me to have lost the appreciation of every bottle. That’s just my experience.

The question is not so much whether drinking or sharing an expensive wine is appropriate, but rather if drinking several (say more than 6) trophy bottles in a single meal, outside of a context where tasting a large number of bottles together is necessary to the exercise (ie a horizontal or vertical tasting). Put differently, a tasting with much more wine than can be consumed with a fresh palate and/or sober mind, where the only common thread linking the wines together is that they are fabulously expensive.

I can’t say I’ve participated in many (or any) such dinners, but I have zero problems with it. I wonder if the different perspectives are also reflective of people’s family/home situations. Personallly, 95% of my wine consumption is a single bottle at home with just my wife, as I have a young child and just don’t get out much. If you have the flexibility (like some previous posters) to get out with a couple friends 2-3 times a week to open a few great wines and to go to a few in-store tastings every week, that’s awesome, but for many of us that’s just not in the cards.

Maybe not appropriate for me, but that doesn’t make it inappropriate for others.

This is wine we’re talking about. Berserk as we all may be about it, it’s not essential to life, liberty, or… OK, it may be that wine is essential to the pursuit of happiness for some. But just because some “ballas” drink up all the DRC RC doesn’t mean there aren’t other great wines out there. For those who worry the wines will become extinct, well, another Rudy will be along shortly to fix you up.

Good lord, someone please fix the title.

To describe any of these wine dinners/wine parties/wine tastings in terms of “necessary” suggests to me a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of most wine events. “Necessary” is irrelevant.

I’ve been to many wine events where more wines are opened than I can feasibly taste in the course of an evening. Rather than turn into a sourpuss because of alleged excess, I simply select those wines I wish to taste. I don’t perceive it as a competition to see who can taste the most wines in an evening…


I generally agree with you, Ethan, but my quarrel is with a limited subset of larger tastings. Compare, for example, the Barbaresco tasting that’s reported on in another thread - it’s a ton of wine, but being tasted in a structured way, and there are a few trophies, but also a bunch of nice but not OMG TROPHY bottle.

Contrast a tasting where La Tache is being washed down with Coche. IMO, that’s consumption for the sake of consumption.

I guess I’m proceeding from a first principle that both conspicuous consumption - or rather, waste - and bragging are inherently bad things.

Done! [snort.gif]

No complaints here…whether it is a baller night or a baller trip…I enjoy reading the post. And I bet any of these guys would welcome you in to participate if you were planning to be in town.

Probably the other way around. I’d wash down the coche with la tache. [snort.gif]

I am in full agreement with Ian, Peter, David and Robert. The dinner was for four and we shared eight bottles of wine which we shared with two servers and two managers.

I drive a Camry that my wife bought before we got married and I am not independently wealthy.

Most wines are purchased close to the current market. I am a family man and this is the only expensive hobby that I have.

As I posted it was for party of four. Haven’t you attended a tasting with more participants and more wines? Will it be different if there was only a bottle each of Coche and La Tache?

You opened two La Taches, a Claude Dugat GC, two Coche CCs and a Bollinger Prephylox for four people? Res ipsa loquitor.