When is the right time to open a special occasion wine?

Two and a half weeks ago on the 12th floor of a posh hotel in Dallas, I plunked down on the fancy couch in my tastefully appointed room and prepared to open a bottle of bubbly.

The bottle, my trophy from the previous night’s holiday white elephant party with my new coworkers, was an inexpensive California sparkling wine. The occasion? I had just pulled off my first major C-suite event and the CEO was happy. So I was happy.

This is not the cheap bottle of bubbly. This is a Super Tuscan I bought myself after landing a huge business contract four years ago and shared with my husband and dad on my birthday that same year.

Let me preface this by noting that my life has been a grotesque cavalcade of 12- and 14-hour workdays since I got promoted in late September, and The Big Event in Texas that I had orchestrated was the culmination of one of the most stressful periods of my entire career.

So I deserved a symbolic reward, and this B-grade bottle of fizz was it.

Flash back to 2017, when a very expensive bottle of Sea Smoke I’d bought the previous year was unceremoniously popped open (while I was out of town) by my loving husband, who paired it with a microwaved Trader Joe’s burrito. I was not happy. His rationale was that his favorite football team was playing that night. I was even less happy.

Which leads to the million-dollar question: when is the right occasion to open a special occasion bottle of wine? Realizing everyone’s different, I came up with three different approaches to finding an answer. If you can answer ‘yes’ to most if not all of the questions in each category, then open la botella!

Here’s the pragmatic approach:

  • Was the price of the bottle $60 or more?
  • Can you age it for at least 5 years? (If so, you may not want to open it quite yet)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), is the magnitude of the occasion 7+?

Here’s the emotional approach:

  • Are you riding a wave of euphoria?
  • Is this occasion something you’d include in the movie about your life?
  • Do you want to impress a special someone in your life (including yourself)?

Here’s the middle ground:

  • Do you want to class up a weekday date night?
  • Are you inviting good friends over for a dinner party?
  • Are you trying a new restaurant and want to enjoy the dinner with a good bottle of wine?

One more anecdote before I wrap up. A very long time ago, I had a friend whose husband collected wine. My friend and I were heading out for a girls’ night at the Hollywood Bowl. I had prepared the food, and she was in charge of the wine.

Without thinking, she grabbed a bottle of dessert wine from her husband’s collection and off we went. The wine was heavenly. But my friend’s husband’s reaction when we got home was downright hellish. Apparently, we had quaffed a $100+ bottle of Sauternes.

So the answer to the million dollar question is that there is no right answer. My friend and I had a blast at the Bowl, in fact, I still remember that night and the wine. In Dallas, I celebrated a career milestone in a gorgeous, stately hotel room with a cheap bottle of bubbly. In both situations, the circumstances and the environment were memorable.

And if you do crack open an expensive bottle to enjoy with a burger and fries (see the movie “Sideways”), no one’s judging you. But to keep the peace, make sure you were the one who paid for the wine–or that the person who bought it is there to enjoy it with you!

Chicas y chicos, here’s wishing you all a happy 2019,  ripe with special occasions and flowing with rivers of fine vino.




1 thought on “When is the right time to open a special occasion wine?

  1. Fascinating. Thanks for your multiple perspectives!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close