Life is short and saving that bottle of wine for that special occasion is for the birds. Here are some tips to not only pop the cork on that bottle you are holding in the basement but also enjoy the sacred stash of your friends' wines too.
Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, senior editors of Grape Collective invented Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) to provide an impetus for people to enjoy a wine they had been stashing for something special.
The challenge is lots of wine lovers are still waiting on that something special.
I'm here to share that the last Saturday of February is your "something special" and here are my tips on how to share that something special while getting something even more special in return.
Wine, friends and memories...that's your "something special"
Let's create the perfect forum to exchange personal stories about wines that have moved people. Let's create that "something special".
Send the Invite
Invite up to four couples or a group of four friends for OTBN. Keep the invite simple. Something like, "That bottle of wine you've been saving for the perfect occasion, bring it to my Open That Bottle Night social at my home on next Saturday at 6PM." Here is my invite to my friends for my own OTBN Social.
Let's Have Wine Together!
You are a part of the small group I'm inviting to my Open That Bottle Night Social!
Monday, Feb. 24 at 5:30pm Frichette Winery | 39412 N. Sunset Rd. Benton City, WA 99320 Here's what to bring: That bottle, yes, the one you've got stashed away that you are waiting for that perfect opportunity to open. Yes, that bottle. Bring that one. It can be from any region and any vintage. Also, bring an appetizer to share.
Pick out a couple of appetizers that are fun and easily pair with wines. Have food, napkins, water, and wine glasses at the table. My go-to easy trays include
Cheeses like Gruyere, Manchego, Beecher's Nutty Cow's Milk Cheese, Gouda
Cucumbers and hummus
Nab a couple of decanters to have on hand in case guests bring a wine that needs it. Pop the cork and decant your own OTBN wine if needed.
Have music streaming. I love instrumentals and light jazz stations.
Make sure there is comfortable seating for all guests.
Pick out a couple of wines to greet guests with or to enjoy while you continue the social bonding.
As guests arrive, invite them to sit their bottle down at the table and enjoy a glass of the greeting wines. In between greeting guests, open the bottles. Allowing for mingling time will also provide time for any wines that need decanting to sit a little. Organize the wines from lightest to heaviest if possible and take a photo of the line up and individual bottles. You can text the images to the group later in the evening and thank them for joining your OTBN. If there is an older wine that needs more time to decant, consider having guests enjoy that wine last.
Once guests are ready to enjoy the OTBN wines, invite them to the table. Ask guests to share the story of their wine, like their favorite things about the region and producer and any notes about their visit to the winery. The wines will be tasted one by one. Once you pick the first person to start, pour them a sample taste so they can proof the wine, then serve everyone else. This gives the guest the opportunity to share their story. Encourage dialogue and ask questions. Move to the next guest's wine and as the host, share your wine last if possible. Once stories have been shared and OTBN wines have been tasted, invite guests to enjoy by serving themselves. It's also great if the guest who brought the bottle wants to pour.
Enjoy the "something special", which yes is the wine, but even more special will be the walk down memory lane with your friends as they share their sentiments about the wine they chose to share with you.
Here are some images and notes on my own OTBN with a small group of friends.
My friend Deb Culverhouse brought this 2010 Single Berry Select Botrytised Chenin Blanc from Kiona along with some treats to pair with it. Although this wine is considered a dessert wine, she suggested we start with it first as an appetizer. We paired with this wine an aged cheddar, Roquefort, kalamata olives and creme brulee, all made excellent matches and allowed different flavors and textures to showcase in the wine.
Our friends Amy and Kyle Johnson are owners of Purple Star Wines and Kyle made wine for Olsen Estates early in his winemaking career. They brought over a Golden Berry Select dessert wine from Olsen. We spent time chatting about the color of this wine and its aromas before diving into tasting. It's made from Riesling wine grapes and Kyle shared that they selected the most ideal golden berries to make this wine. The honey, caramel, and floral notes greeted our noses then wrapped our palates.
Kyle and Amy also pulled this beautiful Mourvedre by Syncline from their wine club stash. Amy shared their experiences of great hospitality when they visit the tasting room in Lyle, WA. It was a treat to enjoy this ripe red plum and baking spice, medium-bodied wine from Heart of the Hill Vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA.
Greg and I shared a 2009 Corliss and it showcased aroma and flavors of dried strawberry and cigar box. This medium-plus bodied wine left us with a lingering fruity finish. We shared the story of how we met a few wine ladies and gentlemen from the Corliss team who were always a delight. This is one of the only bottles of Corliss we had and we were excited to break into it and share it with friends.
Greg and I shared a 2000 Grand Cru Classé Saint-Emilion produced by Clos De L'oratoire that we've been storing. OTBN seemed like a perfect opportunity to open this up. We decanted it for almost two hours. It had intense aromas of cherries, licorice, and earthy characteristics, very savory on the palate. It was fun to try an old world wine and chat about it with the group. The wine was delicious and I think we opened it right on time.
The conversations were still going as we enjoyed a sneak peek of the Frichette 2017 Reserve from Shaw 32 Vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA. This wine is ripe dark fruit, assertive tannin, and long finish. The memories of OTBN 2020 were being made. We ended the evening with hugs and see you laters and excitement about doing it again soon.
Kyle Johnson, Amy Johnson, Deb Culverhouse, Shae Frichette, Greg Frichette