When should I open that special bottle?

When should I open that special bottle?

patiently waiting to rave un2 the wine fantastic

Patiently waiting to rave un2 the wine fantastic.


If you’ve ever purchased or been gifted a memorable wine, chances are that the wine has some ageing potential, and you’ve probably wondered how long to store it, and when the heck to open and enjoy it.

And, if you’re anything like us, you might also have a few (dozen) other such bottles, and a life that’s probably too busy to keep track of a ballooning collection, even with the help of a cellar management app or Excel grid.

Far be it from us to ever complain about having too much good wine! But, taking good care of nice things does help us enjoy them more. Just like dry-cleaning your best clothing or topping your pasta with that real Parmiggiano di Reggiano – small, careful touches go a long way.

So, that’s why we think a little cellar management is always helpful; though, truth be told, we also believe that there’s never a wrong time to open a wine, as long as you’re surrounded by good food and great company.

Enter our new favourite, simple and app-free solution for small to mid-size home collections that we’re excited to share with you. Best of all, it’s basically free!

First of all, a big shoutout to my former WSET Level 3 Advanced student, Christian, for the inspiration and for allowing me to tell this story on our blog!

Christian recently posted this picture of him and his partner cooking with a fantastic bottle of Catherine & Pierre Breton, which ignited an interesting conversation about home wine collections and how to properly manage them.

Photo credit: Christian Dugas-Ruest (2020). Personal archive.See the “2020” written on the bottle?

Yep, that’s right folks – that’s the entire technique right there! All you need is a metallic or chalk magic marker. Simply write the year during which you wish to remind yourself to open your special wine. (For more on when to drink specific wines, here’s my article, When is my wine ready to drink?)

I’d noticed that subtle detail in the photo and slid into Christian’s DMs to confirm whether that was his doing, and if it was meant to remind him of when to open that bottle. I was so pleased to hear my guess was correct, and to be candid, a little sheepish for not actually having thought of such a simple but effective idea myself!

I love this technique because it (a) is So. Freaking. Easy!! and (b) naturally pulls me back into handling and reviewing my home collection regularly. Too often, I tuck bottles away and really do forget about them.

Again, we believe it’s never too early or too late to open anything, as there’s always something to enjoy and learn from every bottle; however, I sometimes wish I remembered I had something on hand that a friend might like, or that possibly fit a themed dinner party, versus going to the liquor store for something new.

Now that the whole world is temporarily living in isolation, I see no better time than the present to organize and “marker up” my wine collection! Thanks again Christian for sharing your cellar management tool – it’s genius!

Photo credits:

Prince: Steve Parke (2017). Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait. Cassell: New York..

Cooking with wine: Christian Dugas-Ruest (2020). Personal archive.

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