With Covid-19 numbers on the rise, it may be hard to imagine a time when gathering for large parties with friends and loved ones will once again be a regular occurrence. But for some wine lovers, putting aside a celebratory bottle to be enjoyed later is one way of staying optimistic during these trying months.
To help readers sock something away for better times, VinePair asked sommeliers which prized bottles they plan to pop open once the pandemic is history. From wines that evoke fond memories of past travels to iconic bottles used to mark a fresh start, these wine professionals show that it’s not just what you drink that matters, but whom you share it with.
The Best Bottles for Post-Pandemic Celebration
- 1995 Château Figeac
- 1987 González Byass Anada Palo Cortado Sherry
- 2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
- 2018 Les Bertrand Fleurie Cuvee du Chaos
- 2006 R. López de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva
- 2014 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2013 Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Saten Millesimato DOCG
- 2004 Dom Perignon Rosé
- 2012 Hirotake Ooka Domaine de la Grande Colline Cornas
Keep reading for details about all the recommended bottles!
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“Champagne would be an obvious choice. Another long dinner in a crowded boisterous restaurant with a bottle of birth-year wine. But I have to say: I own a magnum of 1995 Chateau Figeac that is fast becoming harder to ignore in my cellar. At 25 years, this wine will make a stellar center point at a post-pandemic celebratory dinner table with my girlfriend and sister. Our planet is on a new path. Our warming trends are irreversible, and the wines being made in these recent decades are showing accordingly. 1995 was perhaps the last truly great elegant, feminine, soft-footed vintage in eastern Bordeaux. It will be bittersweet to celebrate with this wine. Just as vintage fashion is coveted, these older wines are now becoming relics in their own right.” –Ryan White, Sommelier, Nakaji, NYC
“I will not be saving any bottles. If this experience has taught me anything, it is to take things one day at a time, and to celebrate the little things with people that you love.” —Kat Hawkins, Sommelier, Shaw’s Crab House, Chicago
“I have only a bottle left of this magic Gonzalez Byass Palo Cortado 1987, and I’m [going] to share it with my closest friends when Covid is gone or at least controlled. … I remember decanting this 1987 Palo Cortado [for] a colleague at Jaleo, and I want to remember those memories. A unique vintage sherry, really unusual — just two barrels from an almost 33-year-old wine, six years biological aging, plus 22 in oxidative. Super complex on the nose — tobacco, cedar, figs, wasabi, ginger, caramel — it never ends. Concentrated and sharp on the palate, with a really long finish. I’m thinking of enjoying it by itself or making an oxtail paella to celebrate.” —Jordi Paronella, Sommelier, José Andrés Think Food Group, Washington, D.C.
“[There are] many I have already been drinking that come up. However, if I were pressed, I would probably want to keep the Comtes 2007, which is from Taittinger. That would be the best to celebrate with … 2007 is drinking beautifully now.” —Sarah Foote, Sommelier, Castle Hot Springs, Morristown, Ariz.
“Un-ironically, I have been saving a bottle of Yann Bertrand’s 2018 Fleurie ‘Cuvee du Chaos,’ which seems to be a very apropos nickname for 2020 as a whole. It’s Cru Beaujolais from 80-to-110-year-old vines, farmed organically and biodynamically. Wines from Fleurie tend to be lighter, more aromatic, and overall more elegant than some of the other regions of Beaujolais. I can’t wait to drink it with friends when we can finally throw social distancing to the wind.” —Emmanuelle Massicot, Assistant General Manager, Kata Robata, Houston
“A magnum! Just prior to the March shutdown, I was celebrating the StarChefs Seattle Rising Stars Awards with industry pals and colleagues. I was given a magnum of 2006 López de Heredia Rioja Reserva by the generous folks at Wines from Spain in recognition of the sommelier award. I’ve been dreaming of opening it to accompany one of Chef Brendan McGill’s legendary, and likewise large-format, paellas.” —Alexandra Stang, Beverage Director, Brendan McGill’s Hitchcock Restaurant Group, Seattle
“The bottle I am saving is Gramercy Cellars 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. I purchased the bottle directly from the winery while on a trip with friends. It reminds me of strong wine communities like Walla Walla, Wash., where the winery is located. It also keeps me thinking about traveling across the country with friends just for fun when this is all over.” —Jeremy Fowler, Wine Director, Zuma, NYC
“Ca’ del Bosco, Satèn, 2013: Although I’ve had my fair share of their delicious Franciacorta of recent, I have not tasted this particular wine since enjoying it at the winery on my last trip to Italy (wherein I returned home with this bottle). From memory, it quite lived up to the name and style: Satèn — delicate and round (I hate describing wine as smooth, but… smooth). A nose so delightful, it reminds you why flutes are the most ridiculous vehicle for good bubbly. This bottle is my perfect choice because [it] reminds me of my last trip to Italy. I look forward to my next. You know the old adage, ‘Franciacorta: When Covid we need it, post-Covid we deserve it.’” —Mike Wine-guy, Host, Ride Between the Wines, Columbia, S.C.
“The wine I am saving for post-pandemic celebration is the 2004 Dom Pérignon Brut Rosé. My husband and I are moving up to the Finger Lakes region to start a new venture, and we plan to gather our nearest and dearest who we have been unable to spend time with since this all began and have a feast to celebrate the end of the pandemic, as well as our new beginning. Nothing says celebration like a beautiful bottle of Dom Pérignon!” —Lilly DeForest-Campbell, Sommelier/Co-Owner, DeForest-Campbell LLC, Finger Lakes, N.Y.
“2012 Cornas from Domaine de la Grande Colline: The great, mysterious wines of the Northern Rhône — savory, aromatic, revealing new strange depths with every sip — are among the most beautiful in the world, but they’re not everyday sips, owing both to their scarcity and to how protective we Rhône lovers are of our favorite bottles, when we can find them. I especially love the wines of Cornas, which can jolt a jaded palate awake with their unusual, sometimes feral flavors and intensity. Hirotake Ooka at La Grande Colline makes organic Cornas with unusual subtlety, even delicacy, without taming the wild flavors (violets, olive tapenade, smoked eel) of great Northern Rhône wine. It’s a wine to linger over, contemplate, [and] treasure, ideally over a good meal with good company. It’s the sort of wine that makes you think about the passing of time, about how much has changed.” —Rafa García Febles, Beverage Manager, Le Crocodile, Brooklyn