Wine Talk

Snooth User: Carly Wray

When to open that bottle?

Posted by Carly Wray, Jul 12, 2010.

At the Snooth wine blogger dinner last night, a conversation kicked up about the difficulty of deciding when to open those "special" bottles.

Have you ever wanted to open a "special" bottle (subjective, yes -- for some people this means expensive, old, or just especially anticipated) -- but hesitated doing so without a sufficiently "special" occasion?

Or do you believe that opening the special bottle is occasion enough?


Reply by Andrew46, Jul 12, 2010.

This is a good question.  I notice that my stock of "special" bottles is increasing.  I think I need to change my standards on when to open them so I get to enjoy them. 

More dinner parties I guess.

Reply by StevenBabb, Jul 12, 2010.

i think anytime is a good time to open that "special" bottle... for me it's about finding the time to open them.... i totaly agree that special doesn't have to mean expensive....

i have a few bottles, not particularly expensive, but new varietals or different expressions that i'm holding on to.... a cremant from vouvray.... a red txacolina.... just haven't had the "time" to sit and enjoy them.... a few pinot's from domaine carneros from '05, but again.. time.....

Reply by amour, Jul 12, 2010.

I love sharing my special wines !

I am always sharing everything ...all wines , foods, books and poetry( as well as legal advice...within least protecting myself and the recipient also.)

Therefore, I would generally open a special bottle within context ......meaning I would chose the special bottle appropriate to the company.....

Since my sister loves icewine,

I opened a Special 2007 Jackson Triggs last night....Vidal Ice Wine, ..... she flew in for a few days.

She enjoyed that as much as I did....I would not have opened it for myself......but there are other special bottles which I may open for my 2006Chateau  LAFAURIE PEYRAGUEY (SAUTERNE)!

In others words, there are many special bottles....but the way in which a bottle has attained its SPECIAL CATEGORY would differ

and so also would the way in which one chooses when to open it!

For me, I must at least feel that I am doing the best I can....what do you think?

I do deliberate before I open!   Do you?



Reply by BlendsWell, Jul 12, 2010.

That is a great question. I always try to save an expensive bottle for a special occasion because I feel I would appreciate it more and I don't want to see it disappear so quickly. ;^) I have a couple of special bottles at the moment. I'm trying to create a special occasion in my mind, so we can open them. Ha ha!

With that being said, life is too short, open that special bottle and enjoy it when you have time to relax, appreciate and savor it.

Reply by atonalprime, Jul 12, 2010.

Good question -- I'm often late to parties because I'm deliberating on the "right" bottle to bring.  This means I usually pull out one and put it back, pull out two more and put them back, and sometimes even deciding, "this really isn't special enough to warrant any of these" and just grab something off my wine rack in the living room (typically cheaper wine, or something that I have more of in my closet....err, cellar...) 

I have bottles that I tell myself are only for special occasions, but I might find that special occasion is a late night after a grueling day.  I also find that some bottles I didn't intend to open are perfect for specific unexpected occasions.  I'm a huge fan of bringing friends their birthyear vintage if I have one.  Most recently, I noticed my 1971 Pique Caillou was starting to seep so a night of unintended drinking ensued, and I was quite happy to have drank that bottle before it really went downhill.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 12, 2010.

Special occasions come in all varieties. I currently have several bottles set aside for three separate birthdays over the next six months, some special, aged champagne to celebrate a deal in the works that hopefully will be successful, and even a bottle of aged Mescal to greet a friend coming in a month or so whom I haven't seen for more than five years.

Other times of a more impromptu nature, when I have the unexpected surprise of a special dinner guest, or just feel like it's time to sit and take stock and think about the past, present and future, I've been known to dip into my stock of special bottles. A very nice way to enjoy one of the quality aspects of life....

Reply by nicktea, Jul 12, 2010.

I think this was best demonstrated in the movie 'Sideways' when Paul Giamatti wants to wait to open his special bottle, but ends up drinking it at a fast food joint.  Why not?

Reply by hhotdog, Jul 12, 2010.

i beliieve the only common factor in opening a special bottle is with some good company.  i love to open a special bottle with someone whom i can sort of re-live the expirience of the wine.  we can talk about the wine..the year ..the flavors!   anyhow... it's the only thing that is automatic when thinkin of opening that special bottle.

Reply by Degrandcru, Jul 12, 2010.

A special occasion for me is whenever I have time to sit down and really enjoy. So I have my mid week wines and weekend bottles. All the weekend bottles are special and I open what I feel like (or what goes with what I am cooking that day). When I have friends over who are into wine I usually open something special (not only for me, but also for them).

If I bring wine to a dinner party (Mexico often lunch parties) it really depends on the people I have dinner (lunch) with. If they are into wine I bring something special, if they are not into wine, I bring something decent that I like, but that I have several in my cellar or could get again any time.

A good idea is to have a few cases of your favourite low-priced wines to have when you wine a party that is not into wine, but you do not want to end up drinking bad wine yourself (which could easily ruin an evening, at least for me).

Reply by dmcker, Jul 13, 2010.

Nicktea, not sure I want to model my behavior after the very conflicted, OCD 'Miles' character, nor drink my Cheval Blanc (or most any wine) out of styrofoam cups. Even though I also had a mother in the Oxnard/Ventura area, and would drive up from LAX, visit her, then head to Santa Barbara and the wine country (and beaches, etc.) there on several occasions, so that movie was freaky when I first saw it. I could almost smell the actual vegetation, feel the earth crunching under my feet, and feel the heat of the sun when I saw the film in a theater in Tokyo. Made me want to shake 'Miles' into some sense, too... ;-)

Reply by outthere, Jul 13, 2010.

All I can say is don't wait too long trying to figure out when is the right time. I recently opened a 1.5 of 1984 Niebaum Coppola Rubicon that I have had for many years that just didn't have it any more. Sometimes the best wine is the one without a stigma of timing attached to it.

Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Jul 13, 2010.

Here are some thoughts and suggestions on special bottles. For me a recent vintage wine cannot be so so special. A special bottle of wine is one that I have cared for and sat on for example at least over 10-20 years. What happens, is that over time a bottle loses the economic aspect of the initial purchase price. It will take on the character of something much more important.  And it is the moment of "sacrifice' that makes it  a special occasion and can even permanently "mark" the occasion.

To give an example, my daughter arrives with her fiance to visit us after becoming engaged, so I take out two bottles from her birth year, 1980. Even if the wine is not the absolutely best wine you have ever tasted (pretty, pretty good though), there is something mystical about now consuming something that was "concieved" around the same time as you and has been waiting around all that time for this "magic moment."

We still have something left in a bottle of Calvados, which is from my father in laws birth year, 1919, which he gave to me when he was still alive. Very occasionally we take that out and have a few drops. It doesn't matter if that liquid isn't improving in the bottle, it is about something else.

One recommendation, if you take out that "special bottle" that you have been saving for 20 years, have one in reserve right beside it. It may be just awful, completely gone, so have a plan B bottle ready to go as your recovery plan, be ready to assume that it is better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all.

Second recommendation, always share this ritual with special people, in the end, it is about the people.

Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Jul 13, 2010.

Footnote: For all of you younger people out there, start saving those bottles now! I started in the mid 1980s.  Now I don't regret it.  That time will pass faster than you think.  And saving wine will give you a reason to buy wine to defend your "Vin de Garde." cheers, Dirk

Reply by outthere, Jul 13, 2010.

"in the end, it is about the people"

Amen to that Dirk!

Reply by sonomaexpat, Jul 13, 2010.

outthere, i heartily agree. it is not about the cost or age of the bottle, it is about the friends drinking it with you. there is a saying, "may your wine and friends both be old", i think that says it all.

Reply by Pedro Cidade, Jul 13, 2010.

Something happened to me that I´d like to use as an example: I bought a bottle of Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino Gualto 2001. It was a wine I had tasted in my Sommelier course. When I got my first job in the area, I bought the bottle. And waited. Too long have I waited, when I thought that "the perfect moment had arrived" it was too late, the wine was already declining.

I believe the answer to your question, dear Carly, is to open that special bottle whenever you want. If you wait too much, too long, you can have your special moment ruined because of the wine.


Reply by Doctor Bob, Jul 15, 2010.

Out There

I opened a 1982 Rubicon this past April that I had in my wine cabinet for years.

The cork was good. The wine was bad.

This is not a bordeaux. It does not hold up

Reply by StevenBabb, Jul 15, 2010.

in '02 i had an '84 silver oak cab..... i was too young then to apreciate it.... but i do remember an amazing earthy-ness to it... i had more recent vintages before that, and you could really see how age really mellowed the fruit and tannins....

this december i had a tasted a magnum of '96 silver oak and a magnum of '06 benziger cab side by side..... the fruit was only traceable and the tannins were very soft, if at all in the silver oak comapred to the benziger..... it was fun to see the differences side by side.......

any time is a good time when it's shared with good people.....   : )

Reply by outthere, Jul 15, 2010.

@ Doctor Bob - My cork was rotting away and had some signs of leakage. The musty mildewy smell to the wine was a putoff. While it was still drinkable it was surely a major disappointment.

Reply by Doctor Bob, Jul 16, 2010.

This was stored in a temperature /Humidity controled cabinet. I actually bought it at the tasting room of the vinyard and brought it back home. My cork was great. Came out in one solid piece. Perhaps it was just a bad bottle. I could not drink it at all.

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