Journalists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher invented “Open That Bottle Night” in 1999, when they were writing about wine for the Wall Street Journal, and MrB was the managing editor of the newspaper. Dottie and John proclaimed that the last Saturday in February should be the day that everyone opens the special wine that they have been saving for a perfect occasion that never seems to come. Now you can put a special occasion on your calendar every year.
This year’s Open That Bottle Night fell on February 29, and Dottie and John celebrated it with a few hundred friends in Napa, in honor of the donation of their papers to the library at the University of California at Davis, the world’s top wine school. MrB had obligations in New York City, so I was planning to represent us, though I had up-to-the-last-minute jitters about the news that a coronavirus patient was being treated at UC Davis Medical Center. I finally decided to get on the plane, figuring this would be a last hurrah before the disease made travel impossible. I spent February 29 doing now-unthinkable things like drinking wine and eating dinner while sitting right next to people. I hugged people and shook their hands too. Wild times!
The evening began with wine expert and author Karen MacNeil interviewing Dottie and John in front of nearly 200 people at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa.
After, 40 of us had dinner accompanied by special wines. I spent the whole time hypnotized by the blouse worn by MacKenzie Smith, UC-Davis Head Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship. You can see a bit of it in this photo of John, winemaker Warren Winiarski, Dottie, and MacKenzie.
I asked MacKenzie if the blouse was vintage, but she said no — it was a recent style from Paul Smith. So I have questions about how the fabric of her shirt appears to be identical to the fabric used in the 1990s Todd Oldham skirt I’m wearing in the 2013 photo below. I mean, this is a pretty distinctive print and color scheme. I’m going to have to send Paul Smith public relations an email and see what I can find out. I’ll add that to my ever-increasing quarantine to-do list.
View this post on Instagram
MacKenzie Smith (photo from Saturday) is responsible for the strategic vision of the @ucdavis library. Also, her newish @paulsmithdesign shirt matches my 1990s vintage @toddoldham skirt (photo from 2013). How did this intriguing thing happen?!?! I need answers! #twinning #twins #matchymatchy #toddoldham #paulsmith #fashionrepeatsitself #skirt #shirt #wat #how
It would have been amazing if I was wearing the Todd Oldham skirt that night but instead I was wearing another bit of slow fashion in the form of a Versace dress.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Versace (pre-2005)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Watch: Hermes (2001)
The 2010 photo below is blurry but worth reposting because I’m wearing the same dress and shoe combination. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines,” and I often contemplate that when coming across decade-spanning outfit photos like this.
I took a selfie with MacKenzie so that my Versace dress could tell my Todd Oldham skirt all about the Paul Smith blouse. I don’t know if I always envisioned my clothes talking amongst themselves when I’m not wearing them, or if this is some quarantine-induced idea. What is time anyway?
You don’t have to wait till next February to open a celebratory bottle of wine, of course. Thanks to Dottie and John’s influence, I’ve cracked open vintage bottles totally randomly because — why not? If you are considering doing the same, here is some advice from the old WSJ column.
- Stand older wine up for a few days before you plan to open it to allow the sediment to settle.
- Have a backup wine ready for your special meal, in case your old wine really has gone bad.
- Enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been.
I feel like “Enjoy it for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been” can be applied to a lot of non-wine situations in life. Does mindfulness + wine = winefulness?