The origin of Open That Bottle Night seems to have become somewhat of an urban legend involving a possible plane crash. The true history of the night is that two famous and well respected writers for the Wall Street Journal developed the idea in 2000. OTBN seems to have gained strength and has continued annually since that time. It is celebrated across the world on the last Saturday night in February. The night creates the opportunity to open that “special” bottle in your collection which for years seems to remain aloof and for one reason or another, never seems to get opened.
We celebrated a week early in the Vallens household. We had a casual dinner with some very close friends and each of us brought out some very special bottles of wine. Jennifer and I were greeted with a 2005 Insignia by Joseph Phelps. This bottle was purchased directly from the winery – I know because we were there when it was purchased – and kept cellared at 57 degrees ever since. It was in perfect shape and in my opinion ready to be consumed. It was not showing to be the 2005 I remembered from five or so years ago, but in true Insignia form, this was glorious expression of a Bordeaux blend from Napa County.
We then cracked a magnum of 2003 Insignia that we brought. It’s Jennifer’s birthday this week, so she got to pick. It was interesting to see the two in a side by side comparison. The big bottle clearly seemed to hold its age better than the 750. The ’03 was likewise ready to drink before it lost too much of its liveliness. In my mind his is exactly what OTBN was invented for. I needed a reason to open this bottle. I have many like it that require some special occasion, reason, party, guests, etc. in order to put enough pressure on me to open these very special bottles. OTBN gave me the reason. The justification is simple for me: Drink it and enjoy it before it turns to vinegar.
Finally, I had some really old wine in the cellar which was a gift from a client. I opened a 1992 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Silver Oak. I was stunned when I got the cork out in only two pieces and found this wine to be in near perfect shape for a bottle that old. Certainly it had many of the tell tale signs of an older bottle in the nose, color and taste, but it was really good. The four of us had stopped at Silver Oak Winery before lunch at the Culinary Institute in Napa on our very first trip to Wine Country in 1999.
I may utilize next Saturday, the “true” OTBN as an excuse to open another “That Bottle”. If so, it will be my pick. In the mean time, I encourage everyone to use next Saturday as a tool to help you celebrate. Open that bottle before that bottle becomes nothing more than non-drinkable and distant memory. Like they said in the movie Sideways: “…The day you open a '61 Cheval Blanc... that's the special occasion.”
So go ahead, open that bottle…You know you want to.