Tuesday, March 10, 2009
"Jeff is celebrating a birthday and we'd like you to join us for dinner!" When friends say that, we're inclined to jump at the chance. But when that dinner is at San Francisco's venerable Restaurant Gary Danko, and we're to be the guests of our friends, well...
"We'll bring the wine!" is all we could say. Knowing our selections would have to be worthy of the celebrated occasion (and Danko's $35 corkage fee), we rummaged in our cellar and pulled out a couple dusty, treasured bottles - one red and one white.
The white wine was a Sine Qua Non from the 1990's. When Danko's Sommelier performed the flawless tableside service, the cork was dark, the wine was gold with a brownish hue, and it was clearly several years past its prime.
I'd been afraid of this, but dared not say anything. Super wife and I have had recently had a discussion about why it makes sense to open an expensive wine on a regular old weeknight if it's nearing (or past) its peak. She didn't want to. I did. We didn't.
It's a difficult thing, deciding to pop the cork on an expensive wine for no reason other than "the helluvit". And I suspect it has much to do with these old wines being purchased in much headier times, and opening them brings home one more reminder that we are now living in a new age of frugality. Whatever the reason, my logic did not prevail, the wines remained saved for a special night, and now it was here. And the wine disappointed.
Moved to action, Super Wife went into the cellar with a flurry the next day, and soon we separated a 1990 Meursault from its cork. Same thing. Well past its prime.
So now we're working our way through three cases of expensive white wines, mostly from the 1990's. The majority are well past the point of drinking for anything more than curiosity and edification.
So I encourage you to celebrate the moment with that old bottle you've been saving for that special occasion that just never seems to come around. Open it tonight, even if you're dining alone, or having Chinese take-out for dinner. Better yet, invite some friends over for dinner and make the opening of the wine the special occasion.
Future Candidates for "Just Because" Cork Removal
J. Wilkes Wines, Vertical Tasting (2001 - 2003) - 6 bottles of Ultra-Premium Bien Nacido pinot noir in a wooden crate. On Sale for $199! The wine writers for the Wall Street Journal - Gaiter and Brecher - established "Open that bottle night" nine years ago, and every year they and their readers reserve a Saturday night to open a special bottle they've been saving for that occasion that never quite comes. These bottles would serve perfectly for that event. And at this price, each bottle is at the impossibly low price of $33, with the collectible box thrown in for free!
Budget Options - For those seeking lots of wine for a little money, our online specials represent wines that are almost sold out, with less than a case of each. These end-of-bin items provide great value for the thrifty wine shopper.
Premium Options - - we always seek value in our wine discoveries. But value exists at every price point, and our "Grand Cru" selections represent some of the best wines we've tasted in the Luxury price category ($45+). Whether you like Pinots from Brian Loring, or Bordeaux blends from L'Aventure, the big Syrahs from Clos Mimi or Big Basin, or... talk about excellent candidates for future delight, most of these wines provide great return on a small investment in cellaring!
Go ahead - invite some friends for dinner and open that special bottle. Better yet, make it an annual event. Even better yet - semi-annual! It's a great way to enjoy wine, food and friends.
Dave the Wine Merchant
P.S. If you'd like to age a white wine, make sure it's built for it. We also liberated the cork on a bottle of 1986 Riesling (Spatlese) and it was stunning! Not all aged whites will disappoint. Others Crisp Chenin Blancs or Sauvignon Blancs of the Loire and other German and Alsatian wines can provide bottled pleasures beyond belief!
Quote of the Day:
"The night you open a '61 Cheval Blanc, that is the special occasion"
~ Virginia Madsen as "Maya", from the movie "Sideways"
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