Well, I finally crossed an item off the I’ve Never list – something I’ve been waiting to do since I was 18 years old: I finally opened the bottle of 1990 Penfolds Grange Hermitage that I’ve been looking after since 1995! This is a bottle of wine that currently retails for about $900 dollars.

For those that don’t know, “Grange” (as it is normally referred to) is one of the most highly regarded wines made in Australia. And as such, it commands a very high price. Typically it’s hard to get your hands on a bottle. You can’t just trundle down to the local bottle-o and pick one up.


Fortunately for me, back in 1995 when I used to work in a local drive through liquor store, my best mate Jeff let me know that there were 2 bottles sitting unsold in the back room. Having recently done a wine appreciation course, I was interested in acquiring one of these legendary objects. We both payed our $90 (which was a lot for us back then) and took home one bottle each. I carefully wrapped mine in bubble wrap, and tucked it away. I don’t remember what I thought I was going to do with it, but I think my plan was to hold onto it for a few years as an investment, and to sell it one day.

For the next 21 years, I have tended to this bottle of wine. It has moved with me at least five times, and somehow has remained intact.

In 2008, Jeff and I took our bottles to a Penfolds Wine testing clinic that comes to Perth every two years. They withdrew some of the previous liquid, to test its quality. I nervously awaited the verdict… It turned out that it was still good! Despite not having stored the wine in a cellar. Phew! The Penfolds people topped it up, recorked and recapped the bottle and wrapped it again in the special Penfolds paper.

Another 8 or so years later, while clearing out a cupboard I found the bottle, nestling in the bubble wrap. I realised that I hadn’t opened it or sold it, and that the reason why, was that I feared the contents were ruined, due to my not cellaring it.

A week later, Jeff came to lunch at our home, with his lovely wife and kids. He brought along a bottle of red. Just in case… With some ceremony, we opened the bottle, let it breathe, and shared it out… And it was good. Still very good in fact 🙂

We toasted our 20th wedding anniversary. I let my boys have a sip. We pulled out some old school annuals that I was in the process of “minimising” and gave everyone a laugh, regailing then with tales from our youth.

It was a really great day. I’m glad we’re able to share it with great friends.


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