What to do with an old Sauternes?

I just took possession of an 70 year old Crete de Tate for my husband’s Birthday. I wasn’t thinking rationally, I just wanted to get something he would enjoy, And he loves the sweet stuff. Now I have a 750 ml bottle and am not sure how to approach it. I usually open 375 ml bottles and we drink them over a week, but I don’t know if this would hold up after being opened. Is there a time limit before it dies as I have heard about old dry wines? The only other time I bought a regular sized Sauternes, I filled a saved 375 bottle to have later. But then I was not buying old or to keep.
Then there is food. Is this dessert? An appetizer set with cheeses? Is there a savory option?
Or should this be a party, toast bottle with lots of friends?
By the way I also bought a 375 bottle of a 1988 d’Yquem for our 30th anniversary next year.

Chill, and open at the start of the meal. If the bottle is good, enjoy it as the meal progresses if possible, and count your blessings.

Drink it ASAP.

Which might be too old or fragile, the bottle or the celebrant?


I’m opening a 1953 Creme de Tete for my brother in a few weeks. Based on its appearance I predict it won’t fade for hours. I’m going to have two glasses of it. Older Sauternes often don’t blast you with nearly as much sugar as young ones.

I’m assuming it’s a Gilette '47 or Caillou '47? Other chateau at that time did bottle a creme de tete so it might make a slight difference based on the chateau. 47s tend to have higher acidity than other vintages, so expect it to be a bit tangy. Also, don’t forget to let the wine develop in the glass for at least 20 minutes…I find these older wines need some time to come together. And being this old, it may be rich but not cloyingly sweet, so it should go with lots of courses…cheese and dessert are the obvious ones, but also would go well with lobster pie or fish in a rich sauce, pork and chicken dishes, etc. I’m sure it will be a memorable experience!

It is a Caillou. Maybe a lobster Thermidor, or coquiiles St Jacques?.

Lobster Newburg would be awesome!

Foie gras is another classic match.

Grapefruit supremes sautéed in browned butter works great with older bottles.

I was thinking lobster, too. Foie is always a good choice.


Old Sauternes, like old red wines are enlarged by the slow oxygenation method.
Open it 4 hours before drinking, keep it in a cool place during these 4 hours and you will enjoy.

Some combinations :

  • chicken just cooked without anything
  • lobster as mentioned
  • stilton
  • mangoo or grapefruits

Old Sauternes are absolutely delicious and can last nearly for ever.

François’s food suggestions give a thought. Whilst a bottle might feel like a lot for two people, it might make a very interesting food/wine matching experience, by having it with 3-4 of the above mentioned dishes. The significant difference in food might well alter the perception of the wine.

Winning ticket IMHO for the 1st course!

I had this (the '47 Caillou Creme de Tete) back in early 2015 and it stood up to a tarte tatin. It is sweet but not cloying, and quite rich and caramelized in its flavor profile. It could be interesting with the right cheese. Its caramelized character, for me, would lead me away from a pairing with a savory course.

I would probably go with

1st course - foie gras
2nd course - steamed lobster
3rd course - cheese
4th course - lipitor

Thanx all for the feedback. I picked up the bottle from K&L this weekend. It is the most I have paid for any wine and I kinda freaked out. After these suggestions, here is a tentative plan.
A foie course followed by roast chicken then some blue cheese then maybe a grapefruit supreme.

I did get that sautéed grapefruit idea from François about 10 years ago.

Terrific. I hope you’ll report back on how it matched with the different courses.