Open that bottle!

Tomorrow is “Open That Bottle Night!” Who’s in?

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Or, you may well ask, what is it?

A wine-geek tradition since 2000, Open That Bottle Night has become an annual observance since Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the couple who wrote the Wall Street Journal‘s “Tastings” column from 1998 through 2010, came up with the idea 17 years ago.

The concept is simple, and it is too good to let die just because the column has ended: Set an annual day – the last Saturday of February – for an informal “world-wide celebration of friends, family and memories during which all of us finally drink that wine that is otherwise simply too special to open.”

So, tomorrow, February 25, 2017, let’s keep the tradition alive. Whether it’s the only bottle in the house or one bottle among thousands in your fancy wine cellar, if you have one, pick out a special wine that you have long meant to open but haven’t yet gotten around to. Open that wine! And enjoy it for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been.

Which dusty bottle shall I open?

Which dusty bottle shall I open?

I’m looking at a couple of dusty old bottles here, and am torn between celebrating the day with a family favorite, a 2011 “le Tesniere” Touraine Pineau d’Aunis from Puzelat-Bonhomme, or a lonely bottle brought back from a long-ago trip to Canada and put away, a 2001 Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard “Equuleus” Bordeaux blend from Chateau des Charmes in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula.

Which would you choose? What will you pick out for your Open That Bottle Night? Do it just for your own enjoyment, or share your tasting report with friends on social media, or, if you like, our online Wine Lovers Discussion Group.


Wine Focus: All things Italian

Remember, we’re enjoying tasting and talking about all things Italian wine in Wine Focus, our popular monthly wine forum discussion topic, this month.

Check below to see my tasting reports on two offbeat and affordable Italian delights:
* Montebernardi 2014 “Fuoristrada Off Road” Rosso Toscano Sangiovese ($14.99 for 1 liter, $11.90 local sale price), a tasty Tuscan red that may be the best wine-in-a-box I have ever tasted.
* Il Viziato “The Spoiled One” Vino Rosso ($9.99), an unusual blend of grapes and regions: 80 percent Tuscan Sangiovese and 20 percent Sicilian Nero d’Avola.

Join us in the conversation! Click February Wine Focus: Italy, and bring your tasting notes, comments and questions about any and all Italian wines.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Montebernardi 2014 “Fuoristrada Off Road” Rosso Toscano Sangiovese ($14.99/1 liter)

Fuoristrada Off Road

This certified organic wine comes in a recyclable coated red-cardboard ‘TetraPak” box roughly the size and shape of a wine bottle. It pours dark reddish-purple, shading to a clear garnet edge. The aromas bespeak Tuscan Sangiovese with fresh and ripe cherry fruit, dried cherries and subtle spice. Fresh and tart, red and black berries and zippy, food-friendly acidity and 13.5% alcohol in a palate-cleansing flavor that lingers, adding a touch of tannic astringency in the finish. If you’re prejudiced against wines that come from a box, taste this one “blind” and prepare to have your attitude adjusted. Excellent value. U.S. importer: One Green Liter LLC, Boynton Beach, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: It made a decent match with a dish of asparagus and scrambled eggs with a cheesy sauce, but it might find its best use with pizza, tomato-sauced pasta or burgers and steaks.

WHEN TO DRINK: Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not yet persuaded by Tetra Paks for cellaring. Buy it, enjoy it, buy some more.

It took a special $11.90 markdown sale for my local price to match the average U.S. retail on, but for a full liter, this wine would still be a fine value in the middle to upper teens.

Here’s a fact sheet about Fuorostrada’s TetraPak wines.

Look for vendors and compare prices for Montebernardi “Fuoristrada Off Road” Rosso Toscano Sangiovese on

Il Viziato NV “The Spoiled One” Vino Rosso (Italy) ($9.99)


An offbeat blend of 80 percent Sangiovese from Chianti Classico near Panzano in Tuscany with 20 percent Nero d’Avola from Sicily, this wine is made by an unusual technique: drying some of the grapes separately before introducing them back into the fermenting mix, concentrating the natural grape sugars for a more intense wine, although it still comes in at a moderate 13 percent alcohol. There is a note of dried cherries in the aroma, dancing with distinct though subtle scents of licorice and dried herbs. Full, juicy fruit flavors follow the nose, rather full body shaped up by zippy, mouth-watering acidity and astringent tannins, with tart dried fruit lingering in the finish. U.S. importer: Empson (U.S.A.) Inc., Alexandria, Va. (Feb. 23, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: It made a natural match with an old-school bowl of spaghetti with a simply, gently spicy tomato sauce. It would be fine, too, with beef or grilled poultry or cheese.

WHEN TO DRINK: I don’t see it as a cellar keeper, but its acidic balance and tannins suggest that there’d be no harm in keeping it for a few years under good cellar conditions.

It’s hard to beat a balanced, food-friendly Italian red for a penny under 10 bucks.

Here’s the importer’s fact sheet on Il Viziato “The Spoiled One.”

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: lists only a few vendors for Il Viziato NV “The Spoiled One” Vino Rosso, but it’s worth a look if you’re near one of these shops or can have them ship to you.

However, distributor Empson (U.S.A.) offers this handy online tool to find retailers that carry their portfolio in every U.S. state.


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