Your Birth Year Buying Philosophy

I would love to get some thoughts on how you all go about choosing your birth year wines. In my case, I love Bordeaux. Our daughter was born in 2020, so I am planning to go deep on that vintage. Let’s say I have a budget of $20,000 (completely hypothetical and just for the purposes of teasing out how people make decisions). How would you choose between the following:

  1. 30 bottles of, on average, $650 wines (first growths, Cheval Blanc, etc.)

  2. 130 bottles of, on average, $155 wines (a mix of the usual suspects between $75-300)

  3. Something else? A mix of the above? Please explain what other strategy you might choose.

I know I have framed this as a Bordeaux hypothetical, but it applies to any other regions you favor. I also know there is more nuance to this question than simply price.

Eager to hear what you all think!



If you are buying for a child and you want them to actually enjoy them, you need wines that will peak at least 15-20 years or more so it doesn’t make sense to stock up on low end wines that will likely be over the top at that point. You want special wines to enjoy on special occasions 20-50 years down the road. JMHO.

I would buy fewer bottles. What’s the point of having 10 cases of birth year wine?

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Being of a lower tax bracket, i ended up going with some sauternes (coutet, la your blanche) in 375 and 750’s, some riesling (prum), and magnums village burgundy or 3-5th growth bordeaux that will get me to 21 years (cantemerle, sociando mallet) and of course some dunn howell mtn.

My rationale is that my kids probably won’t appreciate the red wine as much as the sweet stuff when they are of legal age.

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Agree with Michael. It needs to be special, if you have ten cases, it stops being that.

My philosophy. A case of double magnums. One for the party when she reaches 21, one for the rehearsal dinner and one for her to open on a special occasion. In addition a case of assorted top wines, and finally, a magnum for you and your wife when she leaves the nest and goes to college.

The way I’ve gone about this so far is to ask myself some questions

  1. “what would be good to open when?”
  2. “What will they like to drink?”
  3. “If this weren’t a birth year wine what would I buy to hold?”

I want to give my kids a drinking experience they would be hard pressed to put together in their lifetime. That said, I want to celebrate milestones with them. Given this, I have birth year wines I would want to open with them as late teenagers all the way to some I want them to open when I am no longer here. Also, I have no clue what they will enjoy or how their tastes will evolve so I don’t want to concentrate on one area too much though certain wines age better than others.

So I would balance my portfolio this way (time weighted variety) scaled by budget. Smaller budgets I would make sure to get at least 3 great wines that can last 50+ years balanced with others that can be enjoyed between 15 years and 40 years. I would scale this then by my last question: if the year isn’t going to amount to much I would either overweight regions that did well in the birth year or supplement with other bottles from nearby vintages that will be great for the long haul. Given how hard that is to know, better to put together several vintages of juggernauts to increase the likelihood of great drinking in the future. If the vintage is expected to be a knockout, I would increase my budget and go a bit broader to experience all the vintage has to offer.

My approach is 1-2 cases per year with about 3-4 cases from the birth year. For those bottles you want to last, I would go up in size to magnums.

If your budgeted supports it (mine certainly did not when my kids were born…) I would do something like this:

  1. Sauternes and possibly Resiling: as noted above, 20-30 year olds are sure to like sweeter wines

  2. Vintage Champagne: this won’t be out for several years, and I don’t know if it was a good vintage, but a really high-quality champagne that can age 25-50 years will be appreciated at many milestones, by almost anyone.

  3. High-end bordeaux. Assume they won’t even be interested in these (and certainly won’t appreciate them) until at least 25-30 year’s old. Like the champagne, aim for a a few bottles that will age 30-50++ years.

I think there’s probably a decent chance the kid isn’t all that interested when the time comes. Mine are 2017 and 2020. For the ‘17 I put together a case or so of port, Dominus, Ridge Monte Bello, and Dunn Howell Mtn. Mix of mags and 750s. Would have liked vintage champagne, too, although that seems unlikely.

I figure anything more than a dozen bottles or so probably isn’t necessary, although I do appreciate the views shared above. Would be cool to be drinking wine for my 50th birthday that my parents had purchased for me upon release.

My sense is buying wine for the birth year of a child is more for the parent and less for the child, who may or may not really care. You will get a lot more out of buying wine from the year you were married.

If you are buying because it’s their birth year and then plan to stop buying for them then yes I would agree. If your goal is to build them a portfolio of wine that would otherwise be hard to put together later then I would say you are giving them an option (much like any other asset portfolio - though one that is more than just dollars).

In that case, use the money and buy them an index fund.

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Wisdom here from Howard. Si jeunesse savait si vieillesse pouvait . . .
That said, I would encourage you to do it, but not to go overboard. A case of wine for each child seems more than adequate for the thoughtfulness of it. Pick wines that are likely to have life at age 21 and beyond for your children. I like the Bordeaux suggestion including Sauternes. We bought a case of 1980 Rieussec half-bottles for my daughter’s birth year and a case of 1982 Du Tertre for our son’s. Good luck.

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You should also do that.

Not that you are, but it brings up a point: I personally don’t reduce all things to money. Putting aside the diversification benefit of another asset class, the value of handing someone 20+ years of wine put together for them is, from my perspective, worth more than a roughly equivalent amount of money even accounting for the chance they don’t appreciate wine all that much.

Of course, if this is the only inheritance you leave your children, and your objective is to maximize their financial well being, I would put a small amount of dollars in wine with the majority going into a risk balanced portfolio of assets.

^^^^^This!!! Although my girls now 27 & 25 finally got into wine about 2-3 years ago.

Agree with this.^^^^.

Thanks for the responses!

The $20,000 was a made up amount so that posters could offer a wide range of strategies within reason. Think of it like some strange lottery where you can only spend the money on wine and it has no impact on any other financial matters.

I definitely agree it makes more sense to focus on a smaller amount of special wines. For some reason, I thought she might appreciate having a larger amount of bottles to choose from. However, I did not adequately consider she may not end up even liking Bordeaux!

My waaaay below drinking age daughter already gets a kick out if when we open her year, even though she’s still years ago from even being given a sip.

My birth year is one that there are not many options and those that are available are mostly in the $500+ per bottle range. So, my philosophy is to obtain a few bottles and open them on special birthday dates. Also, there were only a few regions that had decent wines such as Bordeaux and Napa, so I’m relegated to this narrowed selection as well.

My stepson was born in 2009, and my husband purchased a 12L bottle of a very good, though not top tier (too expensive) Barolo, fully understanding that it would be consumed mostly by the adult members of the family and friends at some point after his son comes of age. Other than that, he didn’t make a concerted effort to accumulate 2009s for birth year reasons.

Recently, though, my stepson has started showing interest in tasting our wine, and adores champagne - he’s 12, and a very good eater, so while things could change, he’s no longer just enjoying the fizz. The timing has worked out very well, with a number of excellent to superb 2009 champagnes currently on the market. We’ve picked up more than we might have otherwise, given the year and his growing interest. We promised to open one when his 13th birthday comes around late this spring, and he is very excited.

Both my husband and I have difficult, though not impossible, birth years, mine being the harder of the two. Finding a bottle is nice novelty, but not an active pursuit.

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I became a wine lover when I was 16 and first had a flute of champagne in a Parisian brasserie. I was hooked! Your stepson has excellent taste. neener