Open That Bottle Night has been celebrated on the last Saturday of February, every year since 1999. Begun by the then-Wall Street Journal Wine Columnists John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, the event has gone worldwide. It is a call to open that special bottle with friends and share the experience, instead of letting it continue to sit in the cellar.
WineBid reached out to John and Dorothy and asked them a few questions about Open That Bottle Night.
In 1998 when we started The Wall Street Journal “Tastings” column, the question we received most often was along these lines: “I have this bottle from my late father, or my wedding, or an auction, or a visit to the winery. When should I open it?” We always answered: This weekend – open it and celebrate the memories. We got that question so often we eventually said, OK, fine. Clearly it takes a village to open those bottles. So we set one day when we could all screw up enough courage and will to do it together. We named it Open That Bottle Night. It happens on the last Saturday in February and it’s an international celebration of love, friendship and memories centered on wine.
Not on Open That Bottle Night. Every bottle we open on OTBN is special for some reason. The wine might be too young or too old but the memories are always perfect.
OTBN is about memories. What is it about that bottle that makes you smile and then put it away until you look at it again? Make a great meal, open the bottle and talk about the memories surrounding the wine. The look, smell and taste of a wine can bring back memories in a way a label alone cannot, so let the wine do its magic. An OTBN-worthy wine could be a recent purchase. Maybe the vintage or grape type has significance or you’ve been curious about the winery.
The pandemic reminded us none of us is promised tomorrow. We did open a number of special, old wines. At the same time, we were not able, overall, to share the wonders of wine with friends and loved ones – Zoom tastings are not the same – and that’s a shame because wine is meant to be shared.
We all tend to get it backwards, thinking that a special occasion requires a special wine. Actually, when we open a special wine, it makes the night a special occasion.
In the follow-up story to our very first OTBN in 1999, which the WSJ nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, we quoted John Watson of Maple Glen, Pa: “I can only express one regret. Had we found an occasion last year to open this great ‘gift of the grape,’ my bride of over 50 years could have been present to enjoy this event in person rather than in spirit only.” Now’s the time to Open That Bottle and celebrate the “gift of the grape.”
You can read John and Dorothy’s “Open That Bottle Night” columns by clicking here.
Follow them on:
Contact John and Dorthy at firstname.lastname@example.org