Mr. X’s – Open That Bottle Night

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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.

So you won’t be seeing the Châteauneuf-du-Papes, the Pomerols, or Saint-Juliens in my wine collection. But I am fortunate to have friends who do run with the big dogs.pups in wine boxes


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  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!

Here are the wines that we had that night and I am very fortunate to get the chance to taste them; I love the generosity of my ‘big dog’ friends.OTB Christopher 3 OTB Christopher 4OTB wines Christopher2

About Cabfranca

Adventures of a wine appreciator and her tasting notes via sometimes the semi-fictional persona, Cabfranca. The wines are true, the stories are mostly true, through a well lived sense of wine travel and the beauty that can be found along that trail.
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15 Responses to Mr. X’s – Open That Bottle Night

  1. Monica Schuster says:

    Well at least you are running with big dogs and can enjoy some fab wines! I say, you need to open more of your cellar wines more often, can’t let them go past their peak 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on the drunken cyclist and commented:
    Here is our first entry to #MWWC9! A new participant–The Cabfranca Files, Welcome!


  3. mwwcblog says:

    Reblogged this on mwwcblog and commented:
    We have our first submission for #MWWC9 from The Cabfranca Files. Welcome and good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Duff's Wines says:

    I agree with the above. Open the wine. If it’s still asleep, swish it around or decant. There is no perfect time for wine aside from morning to night. Welcome to the MWWC. It’s fun and painless.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bravo, and there is nothing wrong with the $30.00 price range. You should find many wonderful bottles that others may have missed, as they search for the prestige labels. Be fearless and keep enjoying your cellar, and gradually grow it, that is the most fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. talkavino says:

    You should never be embarrassed about the wine you bring, as long as you chose wholeheartedly. If the wine is spoiled, past prime, corked or oxidized – all of those issues are outside of your control. There is no magic bullet to know that the wine is at its peak, or that the wine is not spoiled – until you opened that bottle. Just be yourself, do what you think is right and trust your own palate.
    By the way, $30/bottle is a very decent budget – you can drink all the wines you think are outside of your league, it only depends where you will be buying them. Take a look at WTSO or Last Bottle – you can always find great deals there.


    • Cabfranca says:

      Thanks for that encouragement, I am usually undaunted by sometimes I doubt my own palate. I am an organizer of a Meetup Wine Group called “Underground Winos of Seattle’, and we are unsnobby wine lovers and our motto is “Drink What You Like”..I live by that. ~


  7. Great article and welcome to the challenge!

    When people ask me what wine they should be drinking, I always respond “It depends on what you like.” They often think that I am blowing them off in some way, but I mean it. Perhaps the only difficult part of being a wine lover is being able to determine and identify what you like. As you get more into wine, no doubt your list of what you like will grow (and that is when you find yourself buying more and more wine).


    • Cabfranca says:

      I love learning what I like to smell and taste in both reds and whites, and am fortunate that I have volunteer opportunities that allow me to taste many wines monthly. I also just joined our local wine lounge’s Century Club night, we will be meeting once a month and tasting through uncommon grapes to add to our lists. Working toward that 100 wine certificate. This should be fun!


  8. Welcome to the challenge! Good luck!

    At least you’re doing the sensible thing of starting off at a lower budget and working your way up after gaining confidence. I let myself get influenced by some wine vendors in my earlier days and bought high!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well done, and welcome to the challenge! I think you did absolutely the right thing. Bring in something unusual, exotic that you can stand behind. I full well know what a budget constraint is…


  10. Cabfranca says:

    Since I started climbing from a less than $15 a bottle budget for a few years , I still see great values in Wash. state for $15 to $25 range. My comrades in vines, yes I just made that horrible pun up,all agree that the wine is the thing, if you like it, then you like it no matter the price. I am wending my way towards more old world wine classics, and need to taste more of them to understand the finesse. So much to taste and learn!


  11. Sally says:

    I share your enthusiasm for expanding my knowledge and tasting new (and if possible) better wines. I can understand your trepidation in bringing your own bottle 🙂 Nice post


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