Even so, it’s easy to find yourself with a bottle pushed aside or to the back of the cupboard, only to be forgotten.
The husband-and-wife team of Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, former wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal, decided to encourage oenophiles to do something with those forgotten bottles. They established their own wine holiday of sorts by declaring the last Saturday in February to be Open That Bottle Night, or OTBN.
This Saturday marks the 12th anniversary of OTBN. After the holiday lull, most oenophiles are ready to celebrate by gathering in restaurants or homes to open the good, the bad and the ugly bottles of accumulated, forgotten wines.
OTBN is not necessarily about opening the most prestigious or pricey wines, but about opening forgotten or remembered wines that have been waiting for a special occasion yet to materialize. The point is to get these wines open.
One fun way to do this is to organize a gathering and require participants to conceal the identity of wines they bring. Appoint a disinterested party to place wines in identical sacks and number them for a blind tasting. Provide score sheets for tasters and have them vote on their choices for best and worst wine. Award prizes for the best and worst wines.
As wines are unveiled, have those who brought them tell what they know about their wine and how it came to be in their possession.
This type of gathering works best with no more than 10 participants. A standard wine bottle contains approximately 25 ounces. Limiting participants to 10 assures approximately a 2-ounce pour for every participant.
I asked my significant other to undertake a scouting mission in his wine coolers to select prospective candidates for OTBN. Significant other has long been better at acquiring wine than managing his collection. There is a distinct possibility that Jimmy Hoffa’s remains might be located in the deep, dark recesses of one of his coolers.
Here are some of his quirky candidates:
Silver Oak 1999 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Likely priced around $64 upon release. Still available from Internet purveyors for $64 to $149. A gift from world-renowned artist Thomas Arvid. The bottle has an incised engraved label and Arvid signature. A mature wine possibly beyond its prime, but I cannot bring myself to disturb it.
1993 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. $65 upon release. Available in the secondary market for $300-$632 per bottle. This vintage had two labels. The first features a nude juvenile by Balthus. The second, a generic cream-colored label placed on later releases after protests of the Balthus label. Significant other snared the Balthus before other collectors grabbed it. Another mature wine. Like my Arvid bottle, significant other is not likely to disturb it.
1994 Penfolds Grange. $100 upon release. Currently available for $296 to $368 per bottle. Highly collectible Australian syrah known for its profound longevity. The world’s most influential wine critic, Robert Parker, estimates this wine will last until 2020. It might end up at an OTBN event, but not OTBN 2011.
Caymus Vineyards 1992 Special Selection Napa Valley Cabernet. Priced at $100 upon release. Available in the secondary market starting at $99 per bottle. Significant other owned six bottles at one time. Regrettably, we have no recollection of consuming the previous five.
This will likely be our entry for OTBN. It will be interesting to see how one of the most respected California cabernets performs at almost 20 years of age.