Giving a birth year bottle as a present to a child you care about is a fun and meaningful idea. There’s even a chance you might get to drink it with them down the road! Heck, I wish my parents would have known I would have been into wine back when I was a kid and gifted me a bunch of birth year bottles! Alas, that was not the case…
But, I’d avoid doing this for your niece’s first birthday, for the sole reason that any wine that is truly ageable from her birth year, a.k.a. vintage, simply isn’t going to be on the market yet. Sure, you will probably find lots of fresh reds, zippy whites and nice rosés from the year of your niece’s vintage during the time of her first or second birthday, but these wines are not the best for aging.
No, if you’re going to buy a bottle that you expect your niece to open when she turns the legal drinking age of 21, you’d better wait to gift this bottle when she is three to five, when the wines with the best ageability from her vintage are on the market.
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When it comes to the regions and price, look for wines that come from the regions that most collectors consider to be classic: Bordeaux, Napa, Rioja, Burgundy, Barolo, Barbaresco, Tuscany, and the Mosel; and spend at least $50 on the bottle. If you follow these guidelines your niece is very likely to end up with a delicious bottle of wine on her 21st birthday, so maybe buy her two so she’s more likely to share.