Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Open That Bottle Night 2009

(Wine "Library" at VIÑA COUSIÑO MACUL outside Santiago, Chile)

I’ve written before about Dorothy (Dottie) Gaiter and John Brecher the wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal. I have been a big fan of theirs for many years and reading their weekly column (and now watching the video on has become a weekly ritual

To my mind, one of their greatest achievements has been their creation of Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). It’s a holiday of sorts designed to provide a “reason” to open that bottle of wine too good, too rare, or too emotionally significant for you to ever find a worthy occasion to open. OTBN is celebrated on the final Friday of February. This year, the 10th Anniversary of OTBN is February 28, 2009.

The celebrations take on a number of different forms from quiet dinners at home with that special bottle to large parties where guests bring their bottles and share in a large tasting and/or dinner. Hinton’s Wine Store near my home is hosting its 4th annual OTBN at their Bin 75 wine bar with a complimentary event to those lucky 30 people who come and bring that special bottle.

Here are the suggestions from Dottie and John:

1. Choose the wine. You don't necessarily need to open your "best" wine or your most impressive wine, but the wine that means the most to you, the one that you would simply never open otherwise.

2. With an older bottle, the cork may break easily. The best opener for a cork like that is one with two prongs, but it requires some skill. You have time to practice using one. Be prepared for the possibility that a fragile cork may fall apart with a regular corkscrew. If that happens, have a carafe and a coffee filter handy. Just pour enough through the coffee filter to catch the cork fragments.

3. Otherwise, do not decant -- at least at first. Many OTBN wines are old and fragile. Air could quickly dispel what's left of them. But if you are opening a younger wine, taste it first; if it seems tight, and especially if you don't plan to linger over it for a few hours, go ahead and decant.

4. Have a backup wine ready for your special meal, in case you are opening an older wine that really has gone bad.

5. If you are having an OTBN party, ask everyone to say a few words about the significance of the wine they brought. This really is what OTBN is all about.

6. Enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been.

7. Drop us a note at about your evening. Be sure to include your name, city and phone number, in case we need to contact you so that we can share your account with other readers.

Our plan this year is to have a few friends over with a few special bottles of wine toted back from vacations around the world. Having the event and the collective courage will help me open a very rare bottle of single vineyard unfiltered 1996 Malbec bought in Argentina a few years ago at what was then a ridiculous 25x the cost of a decent Malbec, but still a deal given the battered Argentine Peso. It was intended as a souvenir to be saved for a very special occasion which we haven’t found yet, but the suspense is now building as we prepare to open it this Saturday for OTBN’s 10th anniversary. Last night I put it on end to allow the sediment to begin moving down to the bottom of the bottle. It will be served with roast rosemary lamb chops with a blackberry port sauce.



Emily said...

Oooh, I'm now thinking I should go tour Cousiño Macul - that wine library looks exciting.

I love your idea of drinking wines that you brought back from vacations. Enjoy!

Pigtown-Design said...

There's a theme that keeps coming up - why are you saving your good china, crystal, silver, wine, etc? If you have it, use it!