This wine “holiday” has become one of the highlights of the year around our house. For me and my friends, it will be Open That Bottle Night number three, though the occasion is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. I was just slow to catch on!

Open That Bottle Night is a celebration of wine developed by the wine writers for the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. Here’s this year’s call-to-arms, getting readers in gear for the spirit behind OTBN.

Some highlights of two previous OTBN dinners

Some highlights of two previous OTBN dinners

And one of the first blog posts I made after launching this time last year offers an accounting our second OTBN gathering.

So, if you have a bottle of wine or two tucked away in the basement or hall closet for which you’ve been waiting for a momentous occasion to open, consider this your excuse. The thing about holding on to those bottles for years on end is building up–sometimes unrealistic–great expectations about the “wow” power the wine will have when you open it. Not fair to the wine (which may well surpass its peak drinkability), nor to you! Why wait? Open that bottle.

Here’s a lesson: at a recent gathering of colleagues for a meeting, one had brought a special bottle of wine she’d carried home from a trip to Italy. It was meant to go into an auction lot, but unfortunately got mixed in with bottles brought for us to sip that evening. Out comes the cork and soon comes the anguish of the lost auction item. The twist was that the bottle was actually corked! So the mistake inadvertently kept an “off” bottle from the auction line-up. It’s an experience that echoes Gaiter and Brecher’s annual reminder that you have back-up wines on hand, in case your prized bottle is also corked or otherwise over the hill. Sometimes we hold on to them longer than we should, waiting for some miraculously-perfect moment.

Our OTBN dinner table has 12 friends gathered around. And just because it makes me so happy to do so, I cook up a multi-course dinner to accompany all the great wines they show up with. We start around 5:00 and linger over each bottle, and each course, wrapping up some time around midnight. But by all means, a simple meal of grilled steaks or spaghetti and meatballs is just as valid. As is a smaller, more intimate group. Whatever floats your boat and creates an engaging, enjoyable setting in which to uncork wine that has just been waiting for an invitation to dinner.