Cheers! Wine Consultants

Open That Bottle Night is about friends, not wine

By Dan & Krista Stockman


Open That Bottle Night was invented for a problem we don't usually have. But that doesn't mean we don't have bottles of wine we need to open. And it sure doesn't mean we don't celebrate this wine holiday with gusto.

John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter invented Open That Bottle Night when they were the Tastings wine columnists at The Wall Street Journal. Many of their readers, it seems, had put away a special bottle for a special occasion, but over the years, the bottle became so precious that there never seemed an occasion important enough to open it. Many of them sat too long and were ruined.

So, recognizing that a special bottle makes any occasion special, John and Dottie named the fourth Saturday in February Open That Bottle Night, a time to gather with friends or family and open that special bottle before it is too late.

Maybe we like wine too much (is that even possible?) but not wanting to drink a special bottle is usually not our problem. One reason is because as we fell in love with wine, we were reading John and Dottie's columns and books, and so we know the value of opening a really wonderful wine on a random day for no reason at all and just letting the wine work its magic.

Another reason is that when we do save a bottle, it's for a specific special occasion. For example, we have some Bordeaux stashed away from the years our children were born. They were carefully selected to be able to mature until they're at least 21 and we plan to either drink them to celebrate their birthday or, if they're still aging well, then a couple of years later to celebrate their college graduation. All of the wines we have put away like that have a specific opening already in mind.

The other reason we rarely have spoiled bottles is because we use CellarTracker to keep track of our wine cellar. With a collection that ranges between 200 and 300 bottles, we have to use software, but there's no reason you couldn't use it if you only have a few bottles, and many reasons you should.

CellarTracker lets us record where and when we got a wine, how much we paid for it and whether the acquisition itself was special, such as when Dan gives Krista a special bottle for, say, Saint Valentine's Day. We can also record whether we're saving it for a specific occasion, and the software keeps track of how the wine is aging, so we know when it's ready to drink, or needs to be opened quickly.

This is especially important for the exception to our rule about having a specific occasion: Wines from the 2000 vintage, which was the year we were married. We bought a lot of 2000s, in a huge range of styles, and put them away to drink “on some anniversary.” Which anniversary we didn't specify.

But thanks to CellarTracker, we can see from other wine drinkers how they're aging, and can easily choose whichever 2000 needs to be opened next, regardless of what anniversary it is. In fact, looking through CellarTracker and seeing what needs to be drunk, we may open a 2000 for Open That Bottle Night instead of waiting for July.

But what if you don't put any wine away? What if your only wine cellar is your favorite wine store? Trust us, you can still celebrate Open That Bottle Night. Some of our very best OTBN memories have been with friends who picked up a special bottle on their way to the event.

Because what really matters, after all, is not even the wine you open, but the people you share it with. We shouldn't need an excuse to spend time with dear friends, but a fine bottle, whether it's perfectly aged, over the hill or still in the sack from the grocery store, is one of the best excuses there is.