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A collection of Dom Pérignon bottles of various sizes.

Tom Sandler/The Globe and Mail

The question

I have a 1990 reserve bottle of Dom, received as a gift for completing a big project at work years ago. The bottle is in a gift box and has been stored in a cabinet drawer all these years. I completely forgot about it until recently. I am not a big champagne drinker (obviously). Would it still be good or is it garbage? Would it be worth anything to anyone?

The answer

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Based on the number of long-lost Dom Pérignons I hear about each year, I think France should consecrate a special cemetery where old bottles of the famous bubbly can go to die.

Dom is Moët & Chandon's top-of-the-line Champagne, worth about $220 for a currently available vintage. The wine's vaunted reputation is well-deserved. Dom 1990 remains one of my favourite wines of all time. Dom Pérignon is made only in years when the testy weather of northern France co-operates to yield very good fruit. As a "vintage" Champagne, by the way, it always carries the harvest date on the label. In contrast, most Champagnes are non-vintage cuvées blended – for consistency's sake – from vast quantities of wine spanning several harvests.

I regret to report that in all likelihood your Dom is done. A great Champagne like that will generally improve for up to 20 years in a cool, humid cellar (even longer depending on a taster's tolerance for notes of sherry-like tang and earthy mushroom common to old Champagne). But you were helpful to note that the storage environment was a cabinet drawer. That's no place for wine. Room temperature will likely have cooked the wine into a sorry shadow of its former self. There's an outside chance it will offer pleasure, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Like countless Canadians with hopes of liquidating old wines and spirits for profit, you don't have much hope in this country, which is a police state where alcohol is concerned. It's illegal to resell alcohol without the specific consent of a provincial liquor board, and no liquor board will have an interest in reselling that old Dom for you given the storage conditions.

The only other legal option is to consign the wine to a charity auction. For this you would receive no money directly but would receive a credit against your income taxes in the amount of the wine's appraised value. I'm pretty sure Dom Pérignon, a charitable 17th-century monk, would have approved. But I'm not sure the wine's eventual buyer would approve after discovering the wine to be tired and flat.

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol was recently named one of this season's Top 10 cookbooks in the United States by Publishers Weekly. Published by HarperCollins.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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