Celebrate Open That Bottle Night

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 13, 2019
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There’s always a level of patience involved when it comes to cellaring wine. As the wine matures on the inside the fruit, tannins and acid develop into a wine different from its youth. Part of the challenge is knowing the opportune moment to enjoy it; how long do you wait? What kind of meal do you serve with an aged wine? And when exactly is the right time?

Open That Bottle Night makes these decisions easier. In the year 2000, two American journalists at The Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, encouraged their readers to open that bottle of wine that’s been cellaring and enjoy it.

Their readers shared stories of the wines they enjoyed, and now the last Saturday in February has been cemented as Open That Bottle Night, an event we’re more than happy to get behind.

What wine should I choose and how do I cellar it?

Browse your collection, and if you happen to have a wine that suits the occasion, that’s great. If you don’t have a suitable bottle for Open That Bottle Night, don’t fear. The night is still an excellent occasion to sample a bottle you’ve been curious about and try something new. Or you could visit your local Vintage Cellars and browse the Museum Release section for something already aged to perfection.

As a general rule, red grapes are better for cellaring than white, but they do take a bit more time. Malbec, sangiovese, tempranillo and pinot noir are best enjoyed around the five to 10-year mark. Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and bordeaux can usually benefit from 10 to 20 years of cellaring.

Whites have different maturation windows, so considering when to open a cellared white is essential. Sauvignon blanc and pinot gris should be enjoyed immediately to three years; chardonnay, riesling and chenin blanc between five to ten years.

However, like with any good rule there are exceptions!

Storage is also key. Keep wine at a cool and stable 12 to 15 degrees. If they have a cork, ensure your wines are on their side, so that the cork remains moist and doesn’t crumble.

How should I celebrate Open That Bottle Night?

Opening a special bottle of wine is a special occasion, so we recommend gathering friends and family for a dinner and wine pairing they aren’t likely to forget. Make it extra special and start the night with a glass of champagne - vintage of course - paired with a salty cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano.

How do I pour a cellared wine?

Aged wines will develop sediment in the bottle and shouldn’t be poured straight after opening. The night before Open That Bottle Night, you should rest your bottle upright to allow the sediment to settle at the bottom.

On the night you should pour the wine into a clean decanter very slowly. As you pour, you should see the sediment begin to move towards the neck of the bottle (it helps if you hold it up to a light). Stop pouring before it pours into the decanter.

What to serve with an aged wine

As wine ages, it begins to lose an edge to the acidity and the tannins soften, which coincidentally are the two areas we typically look to when pairing food and wine. With the more delicate flavours in a glass of aged wine, you want to be careful not to overpower it.

Of course, the pairings will vary depending on the type of wine you have cellared, but you will typically want to avoid heavy sauces with soy, balsamic and chilli – instead opt for subtle yet delightful flavours of herbs, pan seared scallops with butter and fatty cuts of duck and lamb.

When it comes to your after-dinner courses, you might want to opt for a cheese board over anything too sweet.

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy a night of sharing new experiences with those you love!