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Feb 2009

Open That Bottle Night 2009

This wine “holiday” has become one of the highlights of the year around our house. For me and my friends, it will be Open That Bottle Night number three, though the occasion is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. I was just slow to catch on!

Open That Bottle Night is a celebration of wine developed by the wine writers for the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. Here’s this year’s call-to-arms, getting readers in gear for the spirit behind OTBN.

Some highlights of two previous OTBN dinners

Some highlights of two previous OTBN dinners

And one of the first blog posts I made after launching this time last year offers an accounting our second OTBN gathering.

So, if you have a bottle of wine or two tucked away in the basement or hall closet for which you’ve been waiting for a momentous occasion to open, consider this your excuse. The thing about holding on to those bottles for years on end is building up–sometimes unrealistic–great expectations about the “wow” power the wine will have when you open it. Not fair to the wine (which may well surpass its peak drinkability), nor to you! Why wait? Open that bottle.

Here’s a lesson: at a recent gathering of colleagues for a meeting, one had brought a special bottle of wine she’d carried home from a trip to Italy. It was meant to go into an auction lot, but unfortunately got mixed in with bottles brought for us to sip that evening. Out comes the cork and soon comes the anguish of the lost auction item. The twist was that the bottle was actually corked! So the mistake inadvertently kept an “off” bottle from the auction line-up. It’s an experience that echoes Gaiter and Brecher’s annual reminder that you have back-up wines on hand, in case your prized bottle is also corked or otherwise over the hill. Sometimes we hold on to them longer than we should, waiting for some miraculously-perfect moment.

Our OTBN dinner table has 12 friends gathered around. And just because it makes me so happy to do so, I cook up a multi-course dinner to accompany all the great wines they show up with. We start around 5:00 and linger over each bottle, and each course, wrapping up some time around midnight. But by all means, a simple meal of grilled steaks or spaghetti and meatballs is just as valid. As is a smaller, more intimate group. Whatever floats your boat and creates an engaging, enjoyable setting in which to uncork wine that has just been waiting for an invitation to dinner.

3 Comments for this entry

February 18th, 2009 on 5:49 pm

I LOVE this idea! I’m marking my calendar to celebrate this holiday next year. We always hoard favorite bottles waiting for a special occasion and then forget about them, so this would be the perfect excuse to clean house.

Daniel B.
February 21st, 2010 on 5:20 pm

Just a reminder, OTBN XI is just around the corner. I do hope you are planning to keep the tradition alive despite John & Dottie’s departure from the Journal.

Since there will no longer be a post OTBN wrap up in the journal, I have been trying to encourage people to post their stories from the evening on John & Dottie’s facebook page:

I think it would be a fitting tribute to them for starting us all on the marvelous occasion.


    February 21st, 2010 on 5:49 pm

    Daniel, we are continuing again this year! Same group of folks for the 4th year running, though we must cheat a bit and have the dinner Friday instead of Saturday. Looking forward to it. Will definitely plan to post something on their FB page. Thanks for touching base, was so sorry they’re no longer writing for WSJ.

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