Every year I read the articles that preceed OTBN, every year I’m moved by the stories that surround so many of the bottles that will be opened and every year I let OTBN go by uncelebrated.
But last night we had our own OTBN. It was the night before our son’s birthday and, while we had thought we’d go out and celebrate, in the end we decided it would be more fun to stay home and just have a casual meal together. And that’s exactly what we did. No one got out of jeans — except Grandma, who’s never been in them — and no one fussed much about anything. We had shrimp with a Thai-ish dipping sauce to start, a main course of spice-crusted tuna, my husband’s rich, fabulous, filled-with-butter-and-cream mashed potatoes, a pepper stir-fry to top the tuna and “that bottle”, the 1998 Bryant Family Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I’d shelved in the wine cellar (shortly after I’d gotten it as a gift; Bryant is a wine available only to a few restaurants and the lucky souls on their mailing list and I’m not one of them).
Here’s the thing — the wine could easily have waited another ten years and been spectacular, but when I was looking for a dinner wine, it caught by eye and it felt like a joyous, spontaneous and just-right gesture to pluck it from the rack and say outloud, “Tonight’s the night!”
Was it great? Yes! Did it make everyone happy? Yes! Did it make the special occasion seem even more special? Yes! Did it make me decide to do this more often? Yes! Next up, an older Beaucastel.
Just in case you’re wondering – the birthday cake was Devil’s Food White-Out Cake (it’s the cake on the cover of my book, Baking From My Home to Yours). I had my camera with all it’s bells and whistles set to take a shot of The Kid with the cake’s sparklers in full spark, but a friend did exactly what you’re supposed to do at moments like that — he turned off the lights! Next year I’ll have my finger on the night setting.
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