[PRESENTED BY WINERIES OF NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE]
Back in 2000, Wall Street Journal wine columnists, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, created Open that Bottle Night. The intent behind this special day is to offer people a reason to open bottles of wine they have been saving for a special occasion that never quite arrived. For nearly two decades now, on the last Saturday in February, wine-lovers around the world get together to uncork and enjoy a cherished bottle of wine. A wonderful way to brighten a cold winter evening.
Mark your calendars, as this year this special day falls on Saturday, February 23rd. You have a few days to think of a prized bottle of wine you have been wanting to open and a few special people you want to share it with. A big part of this night is reconnecting with loved ones while sharing a great bottle of wine and making some great memories. “The point is to open these gems with someone you care about and celebrate the memories that are in that bottle. Make them the occasion. Recognizing that sometimes it takes a village to do something difficult, we set a date, the last Saturday in February, for this global celebration of friendship, love and wine.” (Dorothy J. Gaiter).
A special bottle of wine doesn’t necessarily have to be a fancy or expensive one. Bottles can be meaningful to us for a number of reasons – purchased during a memorable trip, a gift from someone special, inherited from a family member who is no longer with us, a reminder of a great time in our lives, and so on. But whatever the reason for it being in the cellar as long as it has, there comes a time when that wine must finally be uncorked and its contents enjoyed. You don’t want to hold on to a bottle too long and only get around to opening it once it’s past its prime. So go retrieve that bottle from the back of your cellar, dust it off, think of a great food pairing for it, invite a few loved ones over on Saturday night to share it with and make some long-lasting memories.
Keep in mind that if you are opening an old wine it will likely have sediment so you should set the bottle upright for a couple days before serving it to allow the sediment to settle at the bottom. Depending on how old the wine is, a standard corkscrew may not be optimal so you should consider using a prong opener. Once opened the wine should be decanted. Decanting helps separate the wine from any sediment that may have formed and most importantly it will aerate the wine improving its character by releasing its aromas and enhancing its flavours. While you can aerate a wine by pouring it into a glass and swirling it around, you can get more air into the wine more quickly using a decanter. Wines generally need about an hour to aerate but you should be careful with very old vintages (15 years or older) as the wine can be rather fragile so there is a risk of aerating it too much and ruining it. With very old vintages it’s best to air on the side of caution (no pun intended!) and only decant for 30 minutes or so before drinking. However, if you prefer to see the evolution of the wine as it opens up in your glass, then by all means skip the decanter and pour into an appropriate glass and see how it changes with each sip. Of course this approach works best for patient drinkers who can slowly savour their glass of wine over a few hours.
Whatever bottle you decide to open on February 23rd and however you choose to serve it, the most important thing is that you enjoy it in good company and have a memorable evening. And uncorking that bottle means that a spot in your cellar has opened up for a new special bottle. So the next time you are visiting the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake pick up an age-worthy premium VQA wine that can replace it, and at an Open that Bottle Night several years down the road you may just be uncorking it for the same lucky group of people and create new lasting memories!
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