On Wednesday night I went out with a group of friends to celebrate our friend Emily’s Birthday. Being a fan of Pinot Grigio, I bought Emily a bottle of 2015 Italo Cescon. A nice little bottle of wine that won’t knock you off your feet, but is tasty and easy to drink. After unwrapping the bottle she says “Oh thank you Dugan! I’m gonna have to save this for a special occasion.” With those words ringing in my head, I had a flash back to a conversation I had with one of my regular beer customers Dave. He had come in on a Friday or Saturday like he does every other week or so and was looking to put together a mixed 6 pack, as is his norm. I can’t remember exactly how, but we got onto the conversation of specialty bottles we both have that we’re waiting for a “special occasion” to open. After a few minutes, Dave just says “You know man, you’ll always be waiting for that special occasion, sometimes you just need to drink the stuff.” Recovering from my flashback, I look at Emily and I say, “You can, but really just drink it when you want to, because the special occasion can just be you.”
We all have them, bottles we are holding onto for a special night. A fond memory of a place we want to share with a special group of people, a hard to get, limited edition, only made once every 10 years when the moon is the perfect hue kind of bottle. Something we are so excited to get, but then forget about it months later because it’s in your cellar, or in my case; one of the boxes in my closet, and you have other stuff in there or your fridge you drink regularly. While these bottles can be special, we seem to never find the right time for them. Bottles that are expected to be opened on your birthday or another celebratory event can be held onto because at most events like that guest are bringing bottles of their own or at least a host gift. And usually, if someone brings a bottle to your house, you should open it so that thoughtful person can get some too. Or sometimes we remember too late; yesterday you meant to put that 2004 Schoenborn Pfaffenberger Riesling Spatlese in the fridge for tonight’s dinner party but since you haven’t seen the bottle since you bought it, it skipped your mind while you were setting up. Soon what started out as a few special bottles becomes your whole cellar and you are left to say “Well I guess we have to start drinking these.”
But why allow it to get to that point? A question I have started to ask myself more. While I do have some bottles that are being held onto for bottle share events or something of the like, there are also things I have in my “cellar” that I’m holding onto for no particular reason besides the fact that they are “too special” to just drink on a Tuesday night. But are they really? Libations are meant to be drunk, no Winemaker, no Master Distiller or Head Brewer makes their product and goes “I hope someone buys this and then doesn’t open it for years!” More along the lines of “I hope someone buys this and loves the shit out of it!” because that is what they were made for! You don’t buy a real expensive television and not watch it, you don’t buy a new perfectly made for your body suit and keep it in the closet. No one goes to the butcher, buys a beautiful prime rib then just leaves it in the fridge for months on end. So why do it with what you drink? Because we’re waiting for that day we feel right deeming “special”. But really, isn’t everyday special?
Not trying to sound like one of the inspirational posters you see at the DMV or Doctor’s Office, but you can make any day a special day. It’s a Monday and your work day didn’t seem like it went on for 12 hours, Wednesday at the grocery store you were able to get in and out in 20 minutes, and you got there at 5:30 (the worst time to go to the grocery store). It’s a Thursday and you and some friends are going out for dinner, or hey, you woke up to see another day. With the right view on things, any day can be a special day. Yesterday I had a Cantillon Classic Gueuze because I looked in my closet and saw I had 3 different Cantillons in there. That’s just silly! I was excited to get those beers because I wanted to try them, not to covet them like they carry the answers to the universe. And even though yesterday was just a typical Thursday, it became special because of that bottle being opened.
So I encourage all 5 of you that will read this; start drinking your special bottles! Don’t let a day tell you when it’s the right time, make it the right time. You don’t want to open something down the road and go “Well shit, I should have popped this open 2 years ago.” And you don’t want to have to start buying more storage space because your collection of specialty bottles is getting bigger than what you can handle. Liquor, Wine and Beer are meant to be drunk. And while some bottles should be recognized for their uniqueness, none should be left unopened because of it. Go ahead and take a look at your collection of special bottles and pick one out to drink in the next week. Because that bottle was bought by you because it was special to you for some reason or another. So really, you are the special occasion.