The on again, off again Covid-19 virus lockdowns in 2020 caused enormous damage—financial, emotional, and spiritual—to families and businesses alike. And for those of us residing in Napa Valley, we also had to spontaneously adjust our life and lifestyle to the unpredictable power outages and deadly wildfires that delivered the same trifecta of effects, but to an even greater effect.
No doubt, anyone who reads this can add their own experience to how nasty 2020 was for them. And for those poor souls who had to bear the unspeakable indignities and inconveniences of being socially distant at backyard cocktail parties and dinners, or picking up curbside dinners at their favorite, near-failing restaurants, or watching their ever-growing hair take on a stylish, new color and look, I would like to make a modest proposal for the New Year that I hope will help leave those unpleasant experiences behind, and get you moving forward positively.
My proposal has its roots in an article from the wine writing team of Dorothy Gaiter and John Beecher, who co-authored the weekly wine column in the Wall Street Journal for twelve years until December 25, 2009. While their articles were always informative and interesting, their lasting contribution to wine literature is their annual column known as Open That Bottle Night.
Once a year, starting in 1999, they proposed uncorking and enjoying that dusty, sequestered bottle, (which nearly everyone has), and which memorialized special events like births, marriage, etc. There’s much more to the what and why of that story: Archives, February 13, 2012.
To overcome the 2020 blues and kick start 2021, I’m not only reminding you to liberate that special bottle from its hiding place, I’m proposing a bit more: Don’t open only that one bottle, uncork many others, (especially new and different ones) throughout the year. Make yourself special, not the bottle.
And for those few who have not stored any memorialized bottles, how about your unofficial Bucket List —those wines that you’ve wanted to experience, but never got around to buying? It’s time to go out and buy a few of them, even if they’re a tad north of your customary price cutoff. This is not the time for delayed gratification; 2020 already gave us a generous helping of that.
Moreover, I’m not implying that you restrict yourself to older vintages. You should consider recent vintages of, say, highly rated Cabernets, Chardonnays, or some of the well-known Proprietary blends. Also, if you’re informed about the appellations of Spain or Italy, there are many high quality options that are veritable bargains compared to Napa cult wines.
Another affordable, treat-yourself-option is to sign up for Member Clubs that virtually all wineries offer. The prices are usually discounted from full retail, and members typically also get first access to Reserve wines or limited production estate bottlings. And if you’re willing to do the sleuthing, there are wine retailers as well as Internet firms who will work with you to design your very own Personalized Wine Club.
In closing, I must acknowledge, because of the negatives mentioned above, that I implemented my proposal earlier this year. Because of my buying style (three of this, four of that, rather than multiple cases of one producer) I tend to have a good variety of California and European wines (recent as well as older vintages) that effectively results in an ongoing, Personalized Wine Club.
I maintained it with curbside pick-ups from local wine retailers, as well as Internet purchases from several of the better known websites. But, unfortunately, as I keystroke this, we may shortly be ordered into another lockdown for homes and many businesses. Stay safe, and pour yourself a good glass of wine with dinner tonight.