We’ve been big fans of Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher since our Wall Street Journal reading parents introduced us to them a number of years back.
Aside from being down to earth wine critics in a sea of pretension, they also have been the advocates of a tradition they call Open That Bottle Night. The idea being that a lot of times you need to get away from pointless hoarding of wine, it is often better drunk sooner, rather than later.
As part of the whole Open That Bottle ethos, they started organizing an annual “Open That Bottle Night” the last Saturday in February.
When we began writing our “Tastings” column for The Wall Street Journal in 1998, we tried to write an accessible column that answered the real questions that real people had about wine. Soon, we realized that the question we received most often was this: “I have a bottle of xxxx that I received from my grandfather (or saved from my wedding, or bought at a winery, etc.). When should I open it?” (The addendum was usually: “And how much is it worth?”) We told everyone the same thing: Open it this weekend and celebrate the memories. But we answered the same question so often that eventually we figured, jeez, let’s just set a date when we will all open that bottle together and celebrate the memories. We chose a Saturday in September 1999.
A few years ago, Mrs. Flannestad gave me their book, “Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage”, which is a wonderful memoir of a successful marriage accompanied with an appreciation for wine.
We always try to celebrate Open That Bottle Night a little, in the spirit of John and Dorothy, accompanying a bottle of wine we have been putting off opening with a tasty dinner.
Grilled 5 Dot Ribeyes. Red Wine and Black Trumpet Risotto. Rainbow Chard braised in a spicy tomato sauce.
This wine dates back to a trip Mrs. Flannestad took to the wine country with her parents, before we were married. In fact, it was on that visit to California that we told them we were going to be married!
What, you say they only do citrus supremes on Food Network? Nuh uh, we have them at Chez Flannestad! Tarocco Orange Supremes, to be exact.
One of the advantages to living in California is the occasional beautiful day in February, usually the first time we get out the grill for the first year. The short daylight, though, usually means grilling in the dark, which can be quite spectacular when working with Lump Mesquite.
Right, well the dinner turned out wonderfully, though I thought the steaks were cooked a bit beyond my “ideal”. Fortunately, Mrs. Flannestad enjoys hers a bit closer to “Medium”, so this pleased her. Learning to compromise is an important skill in a successful marriage!
Unfortunately, while the reminiscing over the bottle brought back happy memories of that trip to Napa 10 or 11 years ago, the wine itself was corked and mildewy tasting. After a bit of wishful thinking about whether the wine tasted better after “breathing”, we gave up. Yep, that’s a spoiled wine, all right.
Slight disappointment, but from John and Dorothy’s advice Mrs. Flannestad knew to be prepared for this possibility and had another wine picked out as backup!