The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Open That Bottle Night 2016

This Saturday, February 27th, is the 17th annual “Open That Bottle Night”.   The premise is simple – chances are you have a special bottle (or in my case several) of wine that you’ve been saving for that PERFECT occasion.    This is the night that you have “permission” to open it up.

A bottle could be special for many reasons.   It could have been given to us by someone special like a favorite relative, business associate, or Liam Neeson.   Or it was given to you for a special occasion like an anniversary or retirement.    It could be that the wine itself is really rare or too good to drink on a Wednesday night with microwaved meatloaf leftovers.    Several of mine are wines I bought when they were young and I’ve been storing until they’ve reached their peak.

Whatever your definition of “special” is, the reason for not opening usually comes down to the same thing – you’re holding out.   You’re not letting yourself open it because you fear that there’s going to be some other occasion in the future that’s even bigger than the one at hand.   A couple of writers for the Wall Street Journal came up with Open That Bottle Night as the one day a year to throw caution to the wind and pop it open.  I love the concept.

Except… I’ve never participated in Open That Bottle Night.

I first heard about it several years ago and each time it came around I was either on vacation or had some other obligation.   One time I had to go to a wake for a deceased acquaintance – not exactly the time pop open a 2002 Dom Perignon.   And yes, there were a couple times a flat-out forgot.

But not this time! In fact, I got it out of the way right after Christmas.  (OK, fine. I didn’t really do it for Open That Bottle Night. But I did open some special bottles)

My good friend Jeff is the tremendously talented writer behind The Drunken Cyclist.  He’s from Michigan and still has family in the Ann Arbor-ish area that he comes to visit every so often.   I’m pretty sure he’s written about his family’s inexperience with and lack of appreciation for fine wine, so I’m not giving away any secrets.    Let’s just say he was more than willing to brave treacherous road conditions to come over for some wine with yours truly.

On my side, we had visitors that had overstayed their welcome by three days with two days to go.  So locking myself in the wine cellar with Jeff was a panacea for my familial ills.   Jeff and I may or may not have had a friendly competition to see who had it worse.

(We did. I won.)



What We Drank

The special bottle I chose to open 2003 Torbreck RunRig from Barossa Valley (Australia).

OTBN Torbreck


I didn’t buy that wine for any special occasion or at a special place.  It was special simply because it’s a really expensive bottle of wine that was rated highly.   Although I will say the circumstances in which I bought it and the price I paid are rather interesting.  I happened to have been at a shop at precisely the moment when the wine manager just finished a heated argument with the store’s owner.   So he was happy to give me a $280 bottle for $20.

winning baby


It’s mostly Shiraz, with a little bit of Viognier mixed in. It had a deep red color, with aromas of ripe plum, black pepper, and eucalyptus.  Jeff got some hints of pine.   It was a perfect balance of intensity, elegance, silkiness, and firm tannins with a finish was so long that it lingered into the new year. Robert Parker gave it 99/100 points and most other reviews I’ve seen have been in the mid 90s.   It may be one of the best wines I’ve ever had.

We also opened a 2000 Margaux that would normally have been no slouch but it wasn’t fair to open it after the RunRig.   Especially since it was on the decline.


What We Didn’t Drink

I had a little bit of a dilemma because my houseguests were home when Jeff popped by.  Some small portion of my Grinch-like heart felt some guilt about the two of us sitting around enjoying some incredible wines while they had none.   I would’ve been a total dick if I didn’t offer them any.  So I opened up these two for them.

OTBN shit


The Bordeaux (right) was past its time, but was still drinkable.   The Cab Franc (left) was from a Canadian winery that I picked up at an estate sale for a whopping 92 cents.  As you can see, it committed the cardinal sin of having a drawing of an animal on the label – and a shitty drawing at that.   I’m guessing it probably wasn’t that good when it came out in 2000, let alone late 2015.  But I’m pretty sure it didn’t taste like vinegar back then like it did now.


Yup, I’m a total dick.

Do you have any special wines? Are you going to open them up on the 27th?


About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

12 comments on “Open That Bottle Night 2016

  1. Max D.
    February 24, 2016

    I’m on to your wise games, FWH. Nice try. You just want to make an inventory of your readers’ fine wines so you can one day pop in and say, “I was just driving by your neighborhood with this platter of charcuterie, and I was wondering if you wanted to share. Oh, would you happen to have a good wine to go with this?” Nice try.

    But I’ll bite. After all, the FWH showing up at my house with a charcuterie platter is actually a good thing.

    I don’t have a bunch of super special wines (I did drink a spectacular 2001 Chevalier-Montrachet a few years ago, and I’m still having flashbacks about that experience). I have a couple of bottle of Riojas from Lopez de Heredia from ’87 and ’94. They’re ready to drink, I’m sure, but I bet they can also wait. Then there’s two Vega Sicilia wines that are waaaaaaay too young, and one Hermitage, also too young.

    I do have two bottles from Burgundy that I fear may be on their decline, so if I do Open That Bottle this weekend, it’ll probably be one of them (actually, maybe the FWH or any of his readers can clue me in and tell me if I held out too long on them): a ’98 Grand Cru Mazis-Chambertin from Dugat-Py and a 2000 Charmes-Chambertin (also Grand Cru) from Jacky Trouchot.

    Now that I think about it, maybe I should check and see what I can get for them at an online auction. That’ll quickly tell me if they’re on the decline. I can start a Sell That Wine tradition.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      February 24, 2016

      So it’s that easy? I’ll be by with some hot dogs and packaged sliced ham!

      Those burgundy a should still be fine. Had a 99 Givry that was still nice and I think that’s a lesser wine. Wouldn’t wait much longer though.

  2. the drunken cyclist
    February 24, 2016

    A wine article? A wine article in which you mention me? A wine article in which you mention me and state that I am a “tremendously talented writer”? Either you are on one hell of a bender or you are about to propose to me….

  3. Jill Barth
    February 24, 2016

    Oooh, looking forward to it. Still deciding on what to open but I’m thinking Gigondas!

  4. talkavino
    February 24, 2016

    Great story, John! So you already did your OTBN 2016 – let’s see if I can stop by for the 2017 one 🙂
    Now, let me make sure I got you right: Chateau Margeaux 2000, The Chateau Margaux, was on the decline? wow, that is sad. I really hope this was just the bottle you had…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      February 24, 2016

      Yeah caught me by surprise too.

      And ur always to stop by! Can’t guarantee I’ll be home tho. 😉

  5. anotherfoodieblogger
    February 24, 2016

    Wow that’s great you got together with Jeff! And had a damn fine wine at that. Too bad for your guests… p.s I am ready to watch the next Top Chef episode and send you my notes over the weekend.

  6. thewineraconteur
    February 24, 2016

    John, I would say that you were very generous that evening, and I understand about not being able to actually enjoy the event, as I will not be able to this year, though I thought I would have it as a cyber event for the night. Great choices and after the first two bottles, that Cab Franc might have been the perfect nightcap. LOL

  7. Conrad (The Wine Wankers)
    February 28, 2016

    Wow… good wine!

  8. Taquizas a Domicilio
    March 24, 2016

    It’s important to give some sort of quantitative assessment, though all rating systems for wine are a little bit silly. Readers should note that the point scores inevitably take some account of price (a $20 wine that scores 90 is not quite the same as a $50 wine that scores 90). Also while the points will reflect a young wine’s sheer quality including some allowance for percieved potential, it should well do better (occasionally worse) when it has been aged, in the same why that a fine wine is more valuable when it is older (usually).

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2016 by in Ann Arbor, Drinking and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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