Home > Experiences, Life, OTBN - Open That Bottle Night > Open That Bottle Night 2016: What Wine Are You Going To Open?

Open That Bottle Night 2016: What Wine Are You Going To Open?

February 23, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) is an [international] phenomena created by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the writers of the hugely popular “Tastings” wine column in Wall Street Journal for more than 10 years. Once inundated with the questions “what is the right time to open this [special] bottle”, they designated last Saturday of February as the day when oenophiles should really pull the plug cork on that bottle which was stored until the “special day” would arrive. Only most of the oenophiles have a problem deciding if today is already special, or not special enough.

With the idea to encourage oenophiles to finally reach for That Bottle, Dorothy and John invented OTBN back in 1999. From there on, the OTBN was steadily increasing in popularity not only in the US, but around the world, with people getting together for the special OTBN parties and dinners, and restaurants offering discounts and special menus.

Last November, I had a pleasure of meeting Dorothy and John at the Piper-Heidsieck Vin Clairs tasting in New York, which I attended together with Jeff, better known as The Drunken Cyclist. As part of conversation with Dorothy we also touched on the subject of OTBN. To my surprise, I got an email from her two weeks ago asking for my thoughts on selecting the wine for upcoming OTBN, which will take place this coming Saturday, February 27th.  I gave her somewhat of a mumbling answer, which was included into her OTBN 2016 post in the Grape Collective Magazine, together with the similar input from Jeff.

Let me tell you why you and every other oenophile should take part in OTBN and open That Bottle now. Two reasons:

  1. Wine might not be any good
  2. You might not be any good

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic or use scare tactics of any sort. This is simply what is called “life”.

Think about that prized wine bottle. May be you brought it from your honeymoon trip or anniversary trip, great cruise or an amazing vacation in the vineyards. Since it made it to your house, was it ideally stored? Was it Barolo, Bordeaux or Chablis, which can age great without much regard to the producer or a vintage? Or was it delicious Rosé from Provence, sumptuous red Cotes du Rhone or a playful Vouvray? Chances are, even in ideal conditions, those wines will not last for too long. The whole idea behind those “special” wines is that they are connected to our emotions and memories, and when we drink them we get to re-live the joyous moment of the past – but you do want the wine to match the taste as you remember – and if it doesn’t, well…

The second issue is also a problem. Take a look at Jeff’s post about meeting Dorothy and OTBN, and take a look at the source of his second possible choice of the OTBN wine, the ’85 Inglenook – he got it from someone who could no longer drink wine due to the medical reasons  – and that person was devastated about it, as any of us would under his circumstances. Your health can change, your palate can change – do you really want to risk the joy of having a great glass of wine by not been able to find the “ideal moment”?

choose a bottle

Still undecided? Think about it this way. Opening of That Bottle for the OTBN is a win-win, it always is. First, you get to drink the wine you always wanted to drink. Second, with opening of the bottle you are actually not losing anything – on contrary, you are gaining a great experience. If the wine is good, you are transported to the past, you get to re-live “the moment” once again – and create a new memory for the future. If the wine is not good, or not as you recall – you still create a new memory, and you can move on to your next “special bottle” (pleeease, don’t tell me you had one and only one, okay?).

Don’t know if I succeeded in convincing you, or if you even needed to be convinced, but I hope you will decide and open that special bottle, no matter what makes it special. And then I also hope that you will leave me a comment and tell me what you are planning to open or what you had for OTBN, as I’m dying to know.

As for me, still need to make up my mind – there are lots of choices, so I’m sure it will be a last minute decision, but rest assured that the special bottle will be open – and I promise to tell you all about it. Enjoy the OTBN, and don’t overthink it – just do it! Cheers!

  1. February 23, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Ha! Great piece my friend and thanks for the shout-out! I am dying to know what you eventually choose!

    • talkavino
      February 23, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Thanks! Will decide Saturday morning 🙂

  2. February 23, 2016 at 8:34 am

    We have something similar if not the same here called a Brown Bag Night where the theme is to Push Out The Boat, translation bring out your best. Always lots of fun. Will arrange one of these nights when you make it to Singapore!

    • talkavino
      February 23, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Sounds great! At this point Singapore trip becomes almost a necessity! 🙂

  3. February 23, 2016 at 9:48 am

    You’re spot on. My Mom passed away with those “save” labels still wrapped around the neck of her cherished treasures. May have to open 2 this year since we have that extra
    day in Feb.

    • talkavino
      February 23, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Beverlee. I’m sorry to bring back sad memories. Waiting for the “special moment” doesn’t always work best in life… OTBN makes a lot of sense as it encourages people to live in the “now”.

  4. February 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    When I lived in Spain, I travelled to France (near the border of Germany and Luxembourg) to stay with a childhood friend for a few weeks. Her dad took me to his wine cellar, where he presented me with his crowning glory- a French wine from his region- and from his birth year! Your blog post reminded me of this visit from long ago. He opened it on his 50th birthday. Let us know what you choose. On an off note, WSJ has great wine reviews!

    • talkavino
      February 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Looks like the wine you are talking about should be from the region called Lorraine – have to honestly tell you that I never heard of that region and never tasted the wines. Well, it is always fun to taste the wine which matches your age or even exceeds your age 🙂

  5. February 23, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Wonderful post Anatoli and you are so right, why not open it, I have a few bottles i have been hanging onto and I don’t know why. A great reason to open that bottle is simply to enjoy. My friend held onto a bottle for years and when he finally opened it the cork had degraded and the wine was ruined. Thanks for the nudge.

  6. February 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Definitely agree. I have a simple but effective way of drinking bottles ‘kept for special occasions’: opening that bottle *is* the special occasion!
    As I have a bit of a reputation when it comes to wine, my friends usually treat bottles that I give them ad bottles that have to be kept for a special occasion. And so it happens too often that I notice a bottle in their wine rack years later that should have been drunk already — especially considering such a wine rack is often a far cry from ideal storing conditions. So when I give a bottle, I specify that it should be drunk within a year, and hope that helps. (I never give wine that is not ready to drink to someone who doesn’t have the means to store it properly.)
    Right now I have a 2007 Corton Charlemagne waitig to be opened as soon as I pass one of the exams I’m taking to become a vinologist.

    • talkavino
      February 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      That sounds good – making a special occasion when you need it. So you are becoming a vinologist – are you going to make your own wine?

      • February 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

        I not becoming an oenologist and won’t be making my own wine, this is about knowing all the appellations and blind tasting. It is similar to WSET level 4 I believe.
        Perhaps by calling it “sommelier” it would not be confused with oenologist, but since wine pairing is only a very minor part of the curriculum I don’t think that would be an accurate description.

  7. February 26, 2016 at 11:49 am

    This reminds me of Kees’ old neighbor proudly showing a bottle of Beaujolais Primeur 1984, the birth year of his son, which he was still keeping…….

    • talkavino
      February 26, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      well, I guess someone gave him a bad advice… I hope he doesn’t have multiple cases of that wine – yet it sounds like an interesting experiment.

  1. February 27, 2016 at 1:00 am
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