A dozen drinks to try before you get old and broke

This one’s been simmering on the backburner for a while, and now that Jeni Port has listed her 10 wines you really must try before you die, it’s time to turn up the gas.

From time to time lovers of fine wines and spirits get to taste those rare or obscure elixirs that comprise the distinctive or even archetypal alcoholic drinks of the world. Most of these, it should go without saying, are either expensive or hard to find, or both.

However, when just a few sips of any of these precious liquors will live in your memory forever, who cares about the cost? If you can’t afford to buy one for yourself, hint that a bottle of this or that might be a fine gift. Failing that, share the cost of a bottle with four or five friends.

Here is my selection of essential nectars of the gods, in no particular order:

Vintage Champagne – The universal aperitif. Let’s say… a Bollinger RD.

Super Tuscan – one of the modern classics of Italian red wine. A shared bottle of Sassicaia should leave a long-lasting impression on anyone’s senses.

Vintage port – of your year of birth preferably. I’m not talking fortified ‘port styles’ here – only Portuguese will do. I once had a bottle of the Kopke 1945 – black, powerful, spirity, one of the best wines I have ever tasted. Search online auction houses and sites like this and you’ll find one.

Burgundy – Try Clos de Vougeot or other Grand Crus. The grape is pinot noir but you’ll never find an Australasian pinot that tastes like this.

Chablis – Grand Cru Chablis – is it the best chardonnay in the world? From north of the Burgundy region. Pale, steely, dry crisp, ageless. Nothing like Australian chardonnay.

Absinthe – makes the dreams last longer. Was banned for years in many countries. Once known as the Green Fairy. Perhaps Green Goblin would have been more to the point as its combination of high alcohol and the wormwood-derived hallucinogen thujone sent certain French artists and poets to the edge of lunacy. Apparently, modern versions are less maddening.

Cognac – Fiery molten gold. Start with a VSOP. As an alternative, a vintage Armagnac will do… or a Calvados.

Penfolds Grange – A wonderful red by any standard and arguably Australia’s greatest wine – certainly its most expensive. The Penfolds RWT Shiraz will do as a substitute.

Black Sherry – from Jerez in Spain. A luscious and sweet, deep dark sherry made from Pedro Ximenez grapes. I like the Valdespino version. The closest you will come to it in an Australian wine may be one of Bill Chambers’ rare muscats.

SauternesChateau d’Yquem, a sumptuous white from nobly rotted semillon and sauvignon grapes. For the sweet of tooth and thick of wallet. Try the De Bortoli Noble One as a less expensive option.

Bordeaux – Any of the first growths: Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion, Château Mouton Rothschild. A good St Emilion is right up there with the best – say the Château Cheval Blanc, if you can find one.

Single Malt Whisky– Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Smoke gets in your eyes, and either of these could bring a tear to the eye of a first-timer. I get misty whenever I taste one.

2 thoughts on “A dozen drinks to try before you get old and broke

  1. wine maker

    of the list, i think i’ve tasted only three at most… guess i have a lot more wine tasting to do…

  2. Alamodeaujus

    I totally agree on most of your choices ; Yquem, great Bordeaux wines, any wine lover should have a taste once in his life. I think I would have added german icewein though and maybe also a Jura region wine.
    This is an original choice I know but the savagnin taste is so different from anything else that it’s really worth a try I think !

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