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Decanter’s guide to anniversary buys

For all those in search of a special bottle to mark a celebration in 2018, Anthony Rose shares his tips on which wines and vintages will make ideal gifts this year

Some are born in great vintages, as Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night almost utters, some achieve greatness by cleverly managing to get themselves married in them, while others have great vintages thrust upon them – if they’re lucky enough to be showered with fine wine as a birthday or anniversary gift.

They say that to give is so much better than to receive, and while you may sometimes doubt the wisdom of the aphorism, let us oil the wheels for you with suitable suggestions for wine gifts in 2018.

There are years that lend themselves to the task thanks to effortless excellence across the board, whereas others come more reluctantly to the party, or don’t want to party at all. Sadly, 2018 is closer to the latter camp, with fortunes at best mixed. Broadly speaking, the finer the wine, the longer its potential. All the more so in the case of larger formats – and what better treat than a birthday magnum or jeroboam? Older wines are frailer though, and often difficult to source. So sweet wines, tawny Ports and other fortified wines such as Rivesaltes, Maury and Madeira can fit the bill if a poor vintage leaves you scratching your head for ideas.

Vintage apart, older doesn’t necessarily mean better. Even a great vintage can be marred by good old-fashioned winemaking – by which I mean, of course, bad old-fashioned winemaking. So don’t hesitate to approach a wine merchant or broker specialising in fine, rare and cult wines. A search engine such as www.wine-searcher.com can take away the pain of tracking down a mature vintage – and don’t overlook the auction houses, whose online catalogues can be a rich hunting ground for the fine and rare of the species. If still in doubt for a gift, my current favourite gadget, a Coravin Model Two (see www.coravin.com), would ensure undying gratitude.

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