The word of this day was ineffable.
Hats off to my friend Mr. Pratt for bringing the wine a very long way to dinner.
It was serendipity that his travels brought him to Cincinnati on the last week of February, as the final Saturday of the month is a holiday of sorts. Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) is an annual event coined a decade ago by John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, former wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal.
The intent of the occasion doesn’t fit neatly in a greeting card.
In Dorothy & John’s words:
This is why we invented OTBN, which is celebrated on the last Saturday of February every year. Whether it’s the only bottle in the house or one bottle among thousands, just about all of us have that very special wine that we always mean to open, but never do. On OTBN every year, thousands of bottles all over the world are released from prison and enjoyed. With them come memories of great vacations, long-lost loved ones and bittersweet moments. The whole point of our wine column is that wine is more than the liquid in the bottle. It’s about history, geography, relationships and all of the things that are really important in life.
(from Sprucing Up for Wine’s Night. 26 January, 2007)
That’s pretty kick ass. During their tenure at the WSJ they rated wines on a scale of “Yech”, “OK”, “Good”, “Very Good”, “Delicious” to “Delicious!”. That’s also kick ass.
So it was a good set-up as we met Tom & Wendy at a favorite restaurant that allowed outside beverages (see corkage).
Mr. Pratt brought the wine. Each bottle, carefully considered, was coupled with stories both dear and auspicious.
When I asked him what he thought after having a sip from the second bottle he said “ineffable.” With some shame I asked him what that meant.
“There are no words. It means it can’t be described” but he went on to mention that it had a feeling, a sort of tingling.
Great, I thought. Here I said it had the aroma of a freshly painted room—which it did—but what I didn’t say is that a freshly painted room was the smell of new beginnings! But I felt a little tingle too; and I don’t think it was from embarrassment.
Tangent? I once worked with a designer that never said anything negative when a client offered lame input. He’d simply say, “Well, that is really something!” with palpable excitement.
Luckily my friend isn’t one to mince words and he regarded the paint fume comment without visible distress. He’s also very patient.
I always thought patience was one of the most important components of wine, but this day gave me the perspective that it’s not always about waiting, it’s also about sharing the experience, and this evening was exceptional.
- Full Pour – Mr. Pratt contributes tasting notes with Mr. Coldrey who lives on the other side of the globe. Their site celebrates wine, favoring context over scores.
- My favorite exchange from the movie Sideways – You probably know the scene, with Maya and Miles.
- The Mysterious Heart of Deliciousness – The last column from Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher in the Journal.
- Lastly, I should probably mention the wines from dinner: 2005 Cayuse Cailloux syrah and 2003 Clonakilla shiraz viognier