Open that special bottle already


A common problem among wine lovers is the accumulation of bottles waiting around for special occasions. Sometimes a bottle is special because of the price, purported excellence, rarity or maybe because of memories associated with who gave it. This is a First World problem, to be sure, but a problem all the same.

To cope with this problem, wine writers Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher in 2000 came up with “Open that Bottle Night,” to take place last Saturday in February.

It’s a fun concept, but what if once a year simply doesn’t cut through the accumulation of bottles? Especially when dozens, if not hundreds, of special bottles are being kept until they (hopefully) reach their peak maturity.

To cope with this particular variant of the same issue, my friend Yossie Horwitz came up with his own particular version of OTBN. Horwitz is a kosher wine aficionado in New York and he tastes about 3,000 kosher wines annually. That’s way too many wines to finish one day a year. So he launched the Rosh Chodesh Club.

Rosh Chodesh is the first day (sometimes two) of the month on the Hebrew calendar. It falls on the new moon and is a minor holiday in Jewish tradition. The idea behind the club was for wine lovers “to get together and share some terrific wines in a relaxed, friendly and intimate environment,” said Horwitz, who writes a weekly blog on Israeli and kosher wine, wineries and other oenophilic goodies;

What began with a gathering of 10 friends has grown to 15 clubs in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, London, Israel, Toronto, Strasbourg, France, and elsewhere.

“Having all of those great bottles stored away is meaningless unless you actually drink them,” he said. “And doing so with like-minded wine lovers enhances the experience significantly.”

The Rosh Chodesh Club has the double benefit of bringing friends together and not letting good wine go to waste.

So don’t put off opening that special wine. If you wait long enough, that wine will begin to decline — dying a slow, unappreciated death. There is something sad about this all too common practice of loving” wine to death.

Here’s a bottle to enjoy in the new month of Kislev, the month of Chanukah: Tenuta Monchiero, Barolo, DOCG (Piedmont, Italy), 2010 ($50): This fabulous, elegant, complex, Old World Nebbiolo-based wine grown around the Serralunga d’Alba commune exhibits herbal and dark fruit aromatics, mushroom, cedar wood and an inviting savory, meaty quality, followed on the velvety, medium-bodied palate by notes of dark and red berry fruits, charcuterie and thyme, all balanced by decent acidity and still tight, mouth-coating tannins. Though it will easily improve even more over the next six or years, this is simply gorgeous now.

Mine will be long gone before Open that Bottle Night, L’chaim!

Have wine or spirits questions for Joshua E. London? Send him an email, [email protected].

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