Betty's Wine Musings
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If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know the acronym OTBN. It stands for Open That Bottle Night. This wonderful evening was created by the Wall Street Journal wine writers in 1999 as a time to get people to open up the very special bottles of wine they may have been saving for just a little bit too long. The date for OTBN is the last Saturday in February. In 2021, it’s time for our very first virtual OTBN. Read all about it here.

It's Time for a Virtual OTBN
It’s Time for a Virtual OTBN

What Does an In-Person OTBN Look Like?

These evenings are so much fun. Each person or couple brings an oldie moldy bottle of wine plus a food-friendly dish. We line up the wines in the order of youngest to oldest, and then we taste each one in that order.

We let the owner(s) of each bottle tell us the story of their wine. We appreciate drama in the story telling 🙂

We all taste it and talk about how good we think it is. Ten years ago, when we started holding these events, many of our wines had to go right down the drain, because they were truly bad. The good news is that bad wine doesn’t make you sick. It just hurts the ego.

In modern times, we’ve rid ourselves of most of the wines that are over-the-top old, but we still find wines that are past their prime.

In the end of the evening, we vote on our favorite.

Our 2019 OTBN
Our 2019 OTBN

What Does a Virtual OTBN Look Like?

We will find out exactly what a virtual OTBN looks like next Saturday night.

But here is the plan. Each of the participants will prepare their own food and choose one or two old bottles that they will try that night.

We will go house to house to hear about each wine. If a household has two bottles, they will get to share their second bottle only after each household has presented a wine.

Because we’re not tasting the same wines, we can’t vote for our favorite. So, I think we’ll give awards for the best story tellers, the best descriptions of how the wines taste, and perhaps the funniest faces.

Please share your virtual OTBN stories with us next week.


As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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  1. We will be opening a bottle of my craft made bottles from the 2011 vintage, a Bordeaux blend made with 85%cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Hills of Sonoma, Merlot from the Dry Creek area at 10% Cabernet Franc at 5% from Russian River area. Our wines start showing well after 5 to 7 years and are built to last 10 to 12 years. They are usually on the skins for10 to 14 days and punched down twice daily. It is the last one on the planet andI have been holding off opening it because of that.

    1. Rob,
      Our local group will be interested in virtually appreciating that wine with you Saturday night. I recently opened a 1994 Chateau Ste. Michelle barrel fermented Columbia Valley Chardonnay. Remarkably it was still enjoyable with rich caramel tones and subdued tropical notes. It was certainly past its prime but, come on, from 1994?
      I’m looking forward to seeing you and Sue virtually Saturday.

      Jim Sperk

      1. Wow. I wish I still had wines from the ’90s. I’m in the modern era, with my oldest wines being from 2005. One of them I’m sure will go directly down the sink – a 2005 Muscat. How the heck did I find a Muscat that old? Perhaps I have a few other old bottles that I haven’t yet come across.

  2. Maybe you should write a column about the merits of laying down cases of wine and letting them age, like in Europe. There is nothing like a nicely age bottle of wine. I’m old school, I love it when I open an older bottle and I can see “bricking” in the glass where the wine touches the glass. Then you know it is time to drink. The problem is that most wines today are not built for extended cellaring, the business is driven so you buy the bottle today and drink it tonight. I build my wines to age, except when they finally turn the corner and are approachable, I can’t keep my hands off of them(LOL). One of my favorite wineries is Ridge. They are one of the most honest outfits I know of. They not only suggest to the consumer when the vintage will mature but also if the must was ameliorated before fermentation(the addition of water), how honest is that. With global warming, the vineyards are producing super high sugar levels and many many vineyards will never fess up to adding water to there must. It’s a pride thing, but we must adapt to higher sugar levels.

    1. Four or five years ago, an elderly Ridge Syrah that I contributed to our OTBN won the “best wine” award of the evening. Their wines are very age worthy. This past week, I opened two Cabernets. The first was a 2014 Tao Ming. The second was a 2012 Kieu Hoang. The Tao Ming was to die for. I was so sad that I had only one bottle. The Kieu Hoang was just okay. Definitely didn’t hold up to the years of being laid down in my cellar. But that’s the fun of aging wine. You don’t know what you’re going to get in the end. But certain wineries like Ridge are happily very predictable. It’s a matter of deciding the perfect year. And yes, that’s when you want to be lying down a full case. Unfortunately, my cellar isn’t big enough for that, at least not given everything I’m cellaring right now.

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