January 28, 2007

Google alerts - they are a useful way to research key topics!

Google Alerts

Hey all one neat why I have found to keep my self up to speed with a topic I'm focusing on is to set up a google alert to my email address. This way you can get inspired by other likeminded writers. This email from Atlanta caught my eye because of the why the wine experience is linked in with history, geography and relationships.
Also because the consumers in this article are the people with the unopened wines in their cellars. I enjoyed this article and imagine you will too!

Google Alert article delivered today: OPEN THAT BOTTLE NIGHT

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.

Restaurants are getting into the spirit as well. Some restaurants drop corkage fees for OTBN. Occidental Restaurant in Washington, D.C., is having its OTBN on Feb. 23, the night before the world-wide celebration, as part of its own centennial festivities. It's planning several different menus (for $130, including tax and tip) to pair with the wines people will bring. The restaurant's wine guru, Daniel Hennessey, will ask diners what they plan to bring so they can be assigned to tables with appropriate menus. Some distributors have agreed to kick in Champagne and dessert wines. Mr. Hennessey said the $30 corkage fee will go to a charity that helps homeless people.

While OTBN has become a time for parties, large and small, don't forget that it also is about romance and intimacy. In our case, for instance, we're going to stay home — and travel to Italy together. Many years ago, long before we wrote about wine, we visited the Piedmont region and, through a series of happy accidents, were virtually adopted for a week by the Cerettos, one of Italy's legendary winemaking families. When we were leaving, with tears all around, they handed us a signed bottle of grappa, the distilled firewater. We don't often drink serious alcohol and we had never even tasted grappa, but the next year, on a very cold day, we opened it and we each took a sip. One sip was enough for the whole winter.

Winter after winter, we took a sip of that grappa, usually while standing knee deep in snow in Central Park or outside our country cabin, until, inevitably, we have come to the last few sips. On Open That Bottle Night, finally, we will finish the grappa and remember the hills and fog of Piedmont and the generosity of strangers. And, yes, of course we'll open a special bottle of wine, too, but which one? Part of the fun is figuring that out, so we don't know yet.

If you plan to participate in Open That Bottle Night, here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

1. Choose the wine. This is the all-important first step. You don't necessarily want to open your "best" wine or your most impressive wine, but the wine that means the most to you, the one that you would simply never open otherwise. Maybe it's Grandpa's garlic wine. You're looking for a bottle full of memories. On the other hand, if you have, say, a 1929 Lafite that's just sitting there, we certainly couldn't argue with that.

2. Stand older wine up (away from light and heat, of course) for a few days before you plan to open it — say, on Wednesday. This will allow the sediment, if there is some, to sink to the bottom.

3. Both reds and whites are often better closer to cellar temperature (around 55 degrees) than today's room temperature. Don't overchill the white, and think about putting the red in the refrigerator for an hour or two before opening it if you've been keeping it in a 70-degree house.

4. With an older bottle, the cork may break easily. The best opener for a cork like that is one with two prongs, but it requires some skill. You have some time to practice using one. Be prepared for the possibility that a fragile cork may fall apart with a regular corkscrew. If that happens, have a carafe and a coffee filter handy. Just pour enough through the coffee filter to catch the cork.

5. Otherwise, do not decant. We're assuming these are old and fragile wines. Air could quickly dispel what's left of them. If the wine does need to breathe, you should have plenty of time for that throughout the evening.

6. Have a backup wine ready for your special meal, in case your old wine really has gone bad.

7. If you are having an OTBN party, ask everyone to say a few words about the significance of the wine they brought. This really is what OTBN is all about, sharing.

8. Serve dinner. Open the wine and immediately take a sip. If it's truly, irretrievably bad — we mean vinegar — you will know it right away. But even if the wine doesn't taste good at first, don't rush to the sink to pour it out. Every year, we hear from people who were amazed how a wine pulled itself together and became delicious as the night wore on.

9. Enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been.

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