Of friends, favours and statutes of limitations.

I’m too idle to create a survey this morning so I’ll just solicit your advise on a matter of less importance than it is of curiosity and protocol.

I have a friend. My oldest friend, in fact. We’ve been friends since grade 5.

We live 700 miles apart and we did not see one another very often but we’ve always kept in touch, picking up from where we last left off. When I was going though my divorce and in the process of moving out of the house I shared with my ex, my friend called me saying he was in town and that he would like to drop by for a visit. He had no knowledge of my plans to move and up to the moment that he called, I had no idea how I was going to get the sofa from the basement into the moving van by myself. I guess the universe took pity on me that day. When people say a good friend helps you move and a great friend helps you hide the bodies - I know he’d do both without a question asked.

All to say, he’s been a good friend my whole life. So when he asked me 12 years ago to hold some wine for him that he’d been collecting but could not bring across the border (to Canada) without having to may duty, I agreed to do so without hesitation. It wasn’t a lot of wine. About two cases all combined. I understood back then that it was somewhat rare and moderately expensive wine - $60 - $120 per bottle. We agreed that he’d visit from time to time and take a few with him to bring home or that I’d bring a couple when I’d visit.

Not long after that he completely vanished from my radar. This was not unusual. He’d always had issues with respect to what I believe was depression and various other demons from childhood which are irrelevant to this OP. We never discussed it. He didn’t want to and I respected his privacy in that regard. We had an understanding and it never got in the way of our friendship.

But for the past 10 years, the only contact I’ve had from him was a one line email wishing me a happy birthday. He’s never forgotten it except for this year. I’ve never forgotten his either and I try to reach out to him several times a year, though less and less so because he’s never sent me a reply. He has no telephone number that I know (the old one was disconnected years ago). I stopped by his apartment a few times when in town and his name is still on the building directory in the lobby but he never answered the door and I have no idea if he was home at the time.

I’m not giving up on him. I’m going to continue to try to connect with him. In the mean time…


What do I do with the wine at this point? Is there a status of limitations on this kind of thing? I don’t believe so. Others encourage me to give up and either sell the stuff to another collector and hold the money for my friend, or just drink the stuff to his health and apologize later, if the opportunity ever arises. What say you?

Have you explicitly mentioned the wine in your communications to him? That you would like to return it or may get rid of it?

Do you have an explicit need to free up the space the 2 cases of wine occupies where you live?

Have you tried to confirm that, I don’t know, he’s still alive?

TL;DR - if he is that good and long of a friend, holding onto 2 cases of wine doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, unless you have a specific need to get rid of it.

Some wine does actually have a shelf life too, it might be worth finding that out. Otherwise you’re going to be storing a couple of cases of extremely expensive foul tasting liquid :slight_smile:

Many many times. ex. Hey, dude… the wine… what do you want me to do with it?

Nope. It’s not in my way. One can always use a little more storage space but I can’t say it’s a problem as such.

Sadly, yeah. Googled. Combed the local obits. Contacted old mutual friends. He’s lost touch with them as well.

That’s how I feel as well. But a couple of people mentioned that I might be a little silly to be holding on to the stuff for so long under the circumstances. I’m just throwing it out there for other opinions/insight.

That is certainly one of the arguments. i.e. drink it before it goes bad otherwise nobody gets to enjoy it.

Unless you actually see a death certificate, continue to store the wine.

Yep. That’s my position as well.

Only if you’ve checked that the wine is actually worth drinking after all these years. Since some wine isn’t made to be stored this long and it may not have been stored in proper conditions it may all be vinegar by now. Check with a wine store to see if it’s worth the effort.

IMO, you’ve past the statute of limitations. But I’d drink the stuff if it’s any good.

This is true - easy enough to check based on the maker and variety. For the most part, wines don’t last more than a few years, some less. Typically only big cabernets and a few other varieties actually age well.

Different question: if you either sold the wine, or chose to drink it since it not going to age well past this point - would you be prepared to reimburse your friend if he contacted you? So if you sold the wine for, oh, $1,000 - and a few years later your friend contacts you - would you say “Dude, the wine; I sold it - here’s the $$$” or “Dude, the wine; I drank it - I priced those makes and vintages at the time I drank it; they were worth ~$1,000 - here it is…”

If you are cool with keeping your friend whole if/when he finally contacts you, then you could choose to move/drink the wine without raising a ruckus, IMHO…

If I went the ‘sell the wine’ route, I’d hold the proceeds for him. Not my wine, not my money.

It’s been stored on its side, boxed and away from light, in a climate controlled space (for living) - not in a wine cellar. So while it may not have improved with age, I have no idea if it’s gone off or not either.

Okay - so if it is not drinkable, it is not due to storage/temp issues. But you should still determine what the aging ranges are for those particular winemakers and varieties, since the wines may simply get too old if they aren’t long-term aging varieties.

It sounds like you are trying to do the right thing and will keep your friend whole if the need (and friend) arises. So if the wine is getting old for it’s type, you should consider drinking or selling it, knowing that you will keep your friend whole. Heck, send him emails with updates - he may or may not respond, but you’ll have a record of your intentions…

I’d be tempted to drink at least one bottle.

a) Test it and see if it’s still drinkable
b) Fair recompense for years of free storage

Strictly out of curiosity, I think I might unpack the stuff and take an inventory and try to find out what it’s worth at this point. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could email him telling him his wine is worth several thousand?! I’m pretty sure he could use the money.

There must be online resources for checking that sort of stuff. Anybody know one they can recommend?

It feels wrong somehow. I don’t know why.

I would think the big wine websites would be of help. Just Google the maker, variety (include specific vineyard if one is named) and year. I am sure you will get results that help.

Heck - keep us posted.

By maker… d’oh!.. :smack:

I’ll revive the thread and post an update when I’ve inventoried and priced the stuff.


If the situation were reversed would you want your friend to…

a) drink the wine and enjoy it while it can still be enjoyed
b) sell it and hold the money for you
c) present you with two cases of expensive vinegar

If it were me, I’d want you to do a.

Honestly if the bottles only cost $100 each 12 years ago I doubt they’re anything special. I’d just send him a note saying “Unless I hear otherwise I’m going to go ahead and drink the wine you left with me,” and then wait a year for a response before actually drinking it.

In my experience with (mild) depression, it is actually a burden to have to think about what to do with the wine. His line of thought, depressionstyle, may go along the lines of: " Oh my god, I’m burdening my friend Quicksilver with those cases. He keeps asking me about it. And I don’t have the energy to be a friend to him, much less to be fully functional, and certainly not to make arrangements do do anything sensible with that stuff."

What I’m saying, is that you may actually do him a favour by taking the decision out of his hands and doing something that makes it easier on you and may make him feel less guilty about it all.

If he really wanted something to be done with those boxes, he would have told you. Do something you don’t mind doing and stop asking him about the wine.