"Go to your wine rack/wine fridge/climate-controlled walk-in underground cellar/box under the bed and find THAT bottle - the one you've been hanging on to for ages, or thought too special to open. Now get on the blower or your interwebby device, and rustle up a friend or two for Saturday night. It doesn't have to be schmancy. A meal would be good, but no-one said it couldn't be tacos." Wine Down Newsletter
I have a friend who gets a weekly newsletter from Cellar Door.co who I think is an online wine seller. Anyway he forwards it to me because there might be of something of interest to me for the blog. And indeed sometimes there is, although I must admit that I am guilty of not paying them enough attention usually.
Anyway today I got this particular Wine Down Newsletter the title of which Open That Bottle Night tickled my fancy as it were. Because I feel we have so many bottles of wine (often bought by me as special presents) that are hidden somewhere in our wine racks, but which never get opened. We are still waiting for that special occasion. And they will have gone off before we get there! Or we will die before they get opened.
So with apologies to the writer of the article, because much of what follows is really a paraphrasing of what they said, here is an introduction to Open That Bottle Night. Do read the original - it's a fun read.
Initially I got a bit confused because the writer started talking about Global Drink Wine Day which, has actually gone by - it was on February 18th. Always the same date I think. And that day is more just a celebration of wine and wine history in general.
Open That Bottle Night is different. It was invented by a pair of American journalists - Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher - who had met just after university as cadet journalists at The Miami Herald. They fell in love, married, and pursued successful but separate careers for many years. Eventually though in the 1990s they both found themselves working at the Wall Street Journal where, in 1998 they were encouraged to write a wine column called Tasters. It was enormously successful although I think they may have left there now. Anyway the Wine Down newsletter continues to tell the story thus:
"The pair was inundated with reader questions, the most common of which went something along these lines: "I've got this bottle of wine - I bought it at auction / my father left it to me / it was a wedding gift / we bought it when our first child was born ... When should I open it?" And then, in shades of Antique Roadshow: "How much is it worth?""
So in the year 2000 they came up with the idea of Open That Bottle Night - to be celebrated on the last Saturday in February. You see their answer to all those questions was always the same:
"You know, that wine is priceless. You should really drink it. Celebrate your father, your wedding, your kids, or whatever memory is associated with that bottle – by drinking it. Plan a special meal this weekend, and drink that wine!"
Andy Perdue of The Seattle Times is in agreement:
"I’m here to tell you that you might well wait in vain for the right moment — and now is the time for you to create the moment, to stage an event (Pandemic-era Editor’s Note: Small is fine!) that will result in you opening that wine, savoring it and holding that as a cherished memory"
And I think they are right. I know we have several of those bottles. Mostly they are the odd 'special' and extravagant bottle I have bought for David as a birthday or Christmas bottle because I can't think of anything else to get him - he is the most difficult person in the world to buy presents for. But there are also bottles that were bought from the vineyard, on a particularly memorable occasion, bottles friends have given us and so on. There are probably even bottles that were just bought many, many years ago - and have probably gone off - but then again - maybe not. There may even be a bottle of Grange Hermitage lurking somewhere. And there's always the last bottle of a special purchase that David made more recently.
However, they are not all special in a wine connoisseur's sense. Some of them may have been one of David's super bargains. Who knows. In any event I think it's a wonderful idea, and when he comes in from the garden I'm going to suggest it. There are still a couple of days to go. Which is why I am writing this today rather than on Saturday. You've still got time. And if you haven't got any friends to ask - I'm sure you have - or they are all busy, then just have a special meal for two with that special bottle of wine.
As to what kind of meal. Andy Perdue thinks it should be really special too:
"Make your meal match the wine. Choose the finest cuts of meat, the best ingredients for the finest sauces. Make sure every detail is just right: the candle, the tablecloth, the stemware." Andy Perdue
The writer of the newsletter however, gives more emphasis to the fact that you are celebrating, with friends, family, your wife/husband - whoever - and the food is less important. Me - I think if you have a special bottle of wine, then you should have a special meal too. but that's me. I like the fuss of a special meal.
And don't worry if this is all too late for Saturday, or that you don't have a special bottle of some kind (I'm sure you have),
"If you’re fresh out of ‘special bottles that you’ve been holding onto for years’ (join the club!), you can still be part of the festivities. Just choose a bottle that you wouldn’t ordinarily drink, and proceed as above.
And if, for some reason you can’t celebrate on the last Saturday in Feb, relax. Open That Bottle Night is as much a state of mind as it is an actual date" Wine Down Newsletter
But if you have got a special and old bottle of wine, have something else handy in case it has gone off. But drink it soon. Life's too short to miss out. And get on the phone to your special friends now.
POSTSCRIPT TO UPHILL ALL THE WAY'S CASTLES
The day after I had written my Uphill all the Way post I had an email from my friend Sue in England, reminding me of our visit to Lastours, another Cathar Castle in France - four castles on a ridge together actually. And she attached her lovely painting which she later made from a photograph. So I had to include it here.
But it also made me realise that there is also another aspect of the Uphill all the Way metaphor that I missed out. For Sue and I did not make it to all four. I think we gave up at the first one in fact - which is possibly the steepest part of the climb done. Although then again maybe not. We also had a deadline for a lunch booking we had made at a restaurant at the foot of the castles.
Yes readers. We gave up. We did not endure. We failed. And if you look at these photographs you might see why. We are old dear readers, and by the time we had taken these photographs we had already toiled up from the village, which is way down below. I think Mike made it to all of them and David to three. And then we went to the viewing platform across the valley to allow us to see why we were no longer up to it.
Did we fail though? Surely it's just an acknowledgement of our individual abilities. Sue has this painting to remember that special day, which included many different memories, some of which are recorded in our photographs - the somewhat unsatisfactory restaurant experience - I think they forgot all about us for some time before we chivvied them into serving us, the less upmarket and supremely much better place we found afterwards, all the other wonderful things about that week ...
We tried. We got a fair way along the journey. It was no mean feat to get as far as we did actually. This photograph is taken from the restaurant and as you can see the castles are a long way up. We gave it our best shot as they say these days. After all, as I said in my post, we can't all achieve the summit. We just can do our best. I wish I could draw and paint like Sue though.