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The Question

A good friend just presented me with a Margaux 2004 for Father's Day and now I'm caught between two choices: Hold off 20 years before drinking it (I'm 75) or uncork it on my mother-in-law's 100th birthday this September. What to do?

The Answer

Drink up or lay down – it's the collector's constant preoccupation. I say drink it.

You have a fine red there. Château Margaux is among Bordeaux's undisputed gems, powerful, structured and, like your mother-in-law, built to attain grace with advanced age. As for specifics, the 2004 Bordeaux vintage was good but not stupendous, though Margaux, as usual, was a stellar performer. If it were made in a knockout, very young vintage, such as 2010, I might be inclined to counsel patience. But the 2004, while capable of improving for another dozen years at least, should be relatively supple by now, ready to deliver great pleasure. Many top international critics see no issue with uncorking a 2004 Margaux today.

The wine's evolutionary track aside, there are clearly good personal reasons to pull that cork in your case. Time has a way of sneaking up on collectors, some of whom sadly feel compelled to sell off their inventory as they lose the passion they once had. I'm not suggesting this will be your case 20 years from now, but I've received letters from people as young as 80 who have lamented that they no longer enjoy wine the way they used to. I say enjoy it while you're still keen and have such a treasured relative to share it with. That wine's time has come.

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.