Take One Down, Pass It Around

It’s not so easy to think of an occasion worthy of an exceptional bottle of wine. My husband and I received a few very special bottles as wedding gifts, and we vowed to save them for our first anniversary, for birthday dinners, or perhaps for Valentine’s Day. Then, as each occasion rolled around, we ended up forgetting about our minicellar and celebrating at a restaurant—after all, who wants to do dishes on a date night? We considered serving our precious wines at dinner parties, but then realized that we wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy a bottle that had been split among 10 chatty friends who might not appreciate it. So really, when are we supposed to open the bottles we’ve been hoarding?

Well, my fellow Grinder blogger Miriam Wolf reported last year that Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher invented a holiday called Open that Bottle Night. Now, Gaither and Brecher are gearing up for their ninth annual celebration, which will take place on Saturday, February 23. Their recent column offers a 12-step primer on planning your evening, and the first thing you need to think about is where you’ll pop the cork: “We usually celebrate OTBN alone because we enjoy discussing the very special, intimate memories that the bottles offer. But many people have dinner parties and others take their bottles to restaurants that allow BYOB,” they write.

Gaither and Brecher proceed to offer tips on choosing and prepping your bottle before you drink it. And they recommend selecting a “backup wine” as well—it’ll drown your sorrows if your treasured bottle has soured over the years. The columnists are thinking about opening a L’Ermitage Brut 1991 from Roederer Estate in California, and I’m trying to figure out the perfect meal to pair with a 2001 Joseph Phelps Insignia from Napa Valley. Has anyone else selected a bottle for the occasion?

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