How long do you keep a bottle of wine before drinking it?

My husband and I just had a bottle of Merlot we bought in Napa Valley in 1999. It was by accident that we drank it. We were saving it for a special occassion. We did not realize it was the one we had kept for 12 years.
It was quit good. I guess a Ssturday night is a special occassion.
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