I consider myself an unpretentious wine appreciator, but I find that as my palate is becoming more honed, I am hampered by the budget of a single working lady. With few exceptions I buy within my own wallet limitations. Fortunately, there are many great wines $30 and under that exist for my rack space.
Sometimes they invite this puppy to lap from their bowls. Er, enough of the dog analogies.
Recently I was invited to Mr X’s ‘Open That Bottle’ (commonly referred to as OTB) party on a lovely warm-for-Seattle April night. The loft apartment was cute, the lights low and candles lit, the inviting ambiance was perfect for an evening of wine tasting and conversation
‘Open That Bottle’ is a social event specific to like minded wine socialistos, which asks you to bring that special bottle you’ve been saving for just the right occasion and audience. It’s that bottle that you’ve been picking up, then putting back on the rack as it may be wrong for the food or would not properly be appreciated by the beer drinking group you are taking it to.
I know, this sounds a bit snooty, but for a person like me who is still in the midst of my personal wine education, I kinda want the ‘experts’ to help me taste this wine to see if it IS all that! OTB’s are useful for people who are cellaring a case of a particular vintage and they try to taste them every couple of years to see how that wine is evolving.
Not all wines are built for ageing. There are many ‘drink-me-now’ wines out there, that may be showing well up to 5 years from release but more likely you should enjoy sooner than that. Except for a few bottles, that’s where I’m at. But working on it.
That being said, my fear is that I’ve got a bunch of wines that should have been drunk last Easter, or the Easter before. But when taken to some OTB events, they were still showing very well. Their wine-bones I guess, bore enough tannin or acidity for cellaring. They become softly mellow and drinkable in a different way. There can be nice surprises and but there can also be horrible surprises.
Dangers of losing a wine bottle in your racks or holding on too long to one can mean that that wine is harboring an embarrassment for you at a future OTB party. My fear is that I bring a bottle that has peaked or that it’s corked. Puppy mistake. I mean rookie mistake.
I have found some instructive and interesting information on this very thing and I give credit to Jim Gordon at Wine.com. His article “Know When a Wine is Peaking” is broadening my knowledge and should ultimately make me be a smarter shopper.
But back to the party.
We started with eight bottles and my offering was a South African Syrah ‘08 Boekenhoutskloof. A nice Danish name bearing the signature of the winemaker. I brought it because I at least knew no one else would bringing a like bottle, and if you can’t bring very expensive wines, then bring a good to great unusual one. I bought it maybe 3 years ago after sitting through a tasting with the winemaker. I loved the story about the perils of wine harvesting in Africa as it is not uncommon to see cheetahs dashing through vineyards as well as poisonous snakes amongst the vines. Thank goodness it was liked well enough, even when joined by other local notable syrahs from Washington state. Whew!