One of the most common questions I get asked is when do you know when a bottle of wine is ready to drink? Even more common, is when can I open that “special occasion” bottle?
Personally, I believe the bottle is ready to drink when your corkscrew is ready. But we know there are a few wines that require aging and some that we want to save for a while. In 2000, the Wall Street Journal started a special Saturday night in February, where you gather with friends, couples and spouses to enjoy that special bottle of wine or champagne you’ve been saving for X amount of years. The bottle to be enjoyed on this evening is the one you have been saving for some special event that, so far, has never quite happened.
Well, the 12th annual ‘Open That Bottle Night’ (OTBN) on Feb. 26 is the event you have been waiting for—the time when you are entitled to uncork that cherished bottle and enjoy its contents with friends and family. It doesn't matter if the wine is expensive or low cost, white or red, or even if it is still good. What matters are the memories and stories you share with others.
There is no worse experience than keeping a bottle for too long. It’s happened to me, and I’m sure it’s happened to many wine lovers out there. Most wines purchased today are meant to be consumed quickly, or at least within a few years.
While it’s true that with proper storage, a 2005 Bordeaux or a 1997 California Cabernet may age for 20 years or more, who has the proper storage of consistent temperature, humidity and light? And perhaps more importantly, who wants to wait 20 years to enjoy it?
Here’s a story from one of my customers regarding those special occasions.
A few years ago, an older gentleman who had saved wines all his life had a stroke and could no longer care for himself. His perishable possessions were divided among family including his grandchildren who received the wines. He had a very modest wine cellar with more than 100 bottles from around the world. The grandchildren drank a few of the wines, but there were five wines in particular that had great value and over the years, had been passed around from sibling to sibling.
This man had been saving these wines, to age “perfectly” in his cellar. The wines still had five years of aging left when their grandfather passed away. At his wake the grandchildren decided this was the “special occasion” they had been waiting and opened the wines.
The stories that flowed were joyous memories of their grandfather’s life. No one could recall the wine attributes themselves, but the wines provided the catalyst to sharing great memories.
On Feb. 26, feel free to open that “special” bottle you have been saving all these years. If you don’t have a “special” bottle, go out and purchase one today. Share that bottle of wine with your family and friends, throw an “Open That Bottle Night” party or find out where you can go to share special bottles and special memories with friends.
Every day can be that “special say.” But the last Saturday in February is designated so by Wine Spectator—so make sure you have some fun and make it special.
Local Wine Events
- In the meantime, check out the various tasting events scheduled in your area at Local Wine Events. Maybe you can find that special bottle during an upcoming tasting at your local wine store.
- This evening, WineStyles Bolingbrook presents its new Craft Beer Club, featuring their February and March Brew selections from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This tasting is complimentary.