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Open That Bottle Night 2005

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"Tastings" is a wine lifestyle column in the Wall Street Journal by Dorothy J Gaiter and John Brecher. After hearing from so many people that they were saving bottles for special occasions, they decided that the wine and the memories brought with it needed to be shared. Quoting from their interview in the Washington Post: "The whole idea of Open That Bottle Night is to open that one special bottle of wine that you're saving forever and celebrate it. Any night can be Open That Bottle Night, though we're all going to try to do it together ..., since we know it's hard to do by yourself. It's just so hard to open that one special bottle, isn't it?"

A regular reader of the Wall Street Journal, I have followed the “Tastings” column closely for the past two or three years. In that time, I have learned a great deal about wine, perhaps the greatest lessons being that wine is made to be drunk and that it is best when shared with good company.

When I first encountered Open That Bottle Night (OTBN), it was in the Journal, reviewing some of the letters that had been submitted by readers who hosted their own OTBN events. In subsequent years, I managed to forget all about it until the reviews came in. Determined not to miss yet another, Niki and I hosted an OTBN event of our own this year.

Our house is a small Cape Cod, thus giving us fairly small rooms. For a dinner party, we cannot handle more than eight comfortably. With that in mind, we selected a few close associates from among our acquaintance and a few others we don't know as intimately, bringing our total to eight: three couples and two singles. Our invitations read:

Niki and I invite you to join us for an evening of sharing diner, wine, and memories. If you've got a special bottle you've been keeping for a special occasion, please consider celebrating it with us. It need not be old or even especially rare—bring a bottle you've just acquired and we'll make it special.

We started with a bit of cheese, including a lovely Gruyere and a slightly more typical Swiss cheese, which in fact came from France. We also had two baguettes: one split and baked with asiago cheese and the other, a three-seed variety. A spinach salad followed, then lasagna, and a rich chocolate cake for dessert.

The evening's wine sampling began with a Reisling one of our party originally acquired in Germany some years ago with her late second husband. (She, in contrast, was quite punctual.) While we did not try the actual vintage she brought back (instead trying the 2003), all of the other details were quite right. Bauer & Foss, Piesporter Foldtröpfchen Kabinett.

We were treated to a glimpse at some wine labels that had been removed from other bottles from the same trip where she discovered the wine in the first place and an amusing anecdote about the trip. Ever respectful and gracious hosts, the Germans decided to show our guest's husband, “Herr Doktor,” something that would certainly interest him: the local hospital. The tour could not have been less interesting, but no one had the heart to tell the Germans that Herr Doktor had a Ph.D. in history.

Next up was a trip to Italy. A couple who joined us went some years ago, bringing back a 1994 Il Colle, Brunello di Montalcino. We heard about the trip and compared notes with another who had more recently visited Italy himself as we opened that bottle along with the start of our salad and into the main course.

Heading back to the States, we stopped in California for a Zinfandel from the winery of Folie à Deux. (The very same that produced a particular blend that I first tried just a few weeks earlier.) We heard about the winery, how it began, and what it produces.

We thereafter headed south to Chile for a recent vintage of a fairly common but no less respectable Cabernet Sauvignon that carried us into dessert. A significant factor in our selection of a rich chocolate cake was the likelihood that there would still be red wine to finish by the time dessert was served and we would want something that would match it well. We were not disappointed.

A few partook of a Spanish brandy someone kindly brought, which made for a lovely conclusion.

Besides the stories of the wines, how they were discovered, and what made them special, a few bits of wisdom were unearthed throughout the course of the evening. Among them were:

  • Life in a small town is ... different.
  • If you're over eighty, Victoria's Secret will in fact remove you from their mailing list without much of a fight.
  • When taking notes, it's sometimes best not to write what the speaker literally says.
  • Modern ninjas have invisible weapons. Fortunately, there are books to describe them.

Niki and I were both pleased with our first attempt at OTBN. Hopefully our guests will agree and we'll manage to get OTBN to catch on among our acquaintance.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2005-05-15 09:21 AM

open that bottle night 2005

Posted by dlamb at 2006-01-30 08:04 AM
Does anyone know if there is a date for this year.
I just found out about this and would like to
invite guests over to enjoy a special bottle of wine.

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