February 25 was “Open the Bottle Night” (otherwise known as OTBN), an annual event started by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, Wall Street Journal contributors. The idea is for wine lovers to open a bottle of wine that has been languishing in the basement (errr, wine cellar) for years, that was gifted to you by a generous friend with deep pockets, or that you’ve been saving for a long awaited not-yet-realized “special occasion”. In essence, at OTBN, there are no rules. Just open one (or ten) enticing bottle(s) of wine and sip with friends…or by yourself in a bubble bath. Anything goes! “Open the Bottle Night” is a splendid idea…especially for casual wine drinkers who may not tipple as much as others or for those who love to party and share their favorite wines.

As if we needed yet another reason to open a bottle of wine, the cheerful wine-swilling, food-centric Twitter group named #winePW has chosen OTBN to be the theme for this month’s wine and food pairing (see links at the end of the article). Please log on to Twitter to find our group on March 11 at 11am EST and use the hashtag #winePW to share your noteworthy wine and food pairings. Whether you popped a cork on OTBN or not, our conversation promises to be entertaining and enlightening, especially with David Crowley, the brains behind Cooking Chat Food, at the helm. I hope to “see” you there.

In the grand spirit of OTBN, I decided to open not one, but two bottles of Pinot Noir. Each (sent as a sample) is from a different region in New Zealand: Martinborough on the North Island and Central Otago on the South Island. Both wines complemented, for different reasons, a fresh and flavorful recipe I found in a recent issue of Southern Living magazine, One-Pan Chicken with Lemon, Olives, and Artichokes.

Located near the small town of Martinborough, New Zealand, Craggy Range Winery is known for its single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. The first wine of the evening, Craggy Range Winery Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2013 ($44.99), was of grapes sourced from the Te Muna Road Vineyard. The Martinborough region boasts stony soils, a cooler climate than the rest of the North Island, and a defined diurnal range, elements that help create wines that exhibit ripeness and complexity. The Craggy Range selection was no exception.  I discovered luscious aromas of cherries, strawberries, red berry compote, spice, pepper, and subtle notes of freshly picked roses. The palate was equally enticing. Dry, with mouthwatering acidity and integrated tannins, intense flavors of rich red berries, damp earth, and spice were as approachable as they were elegant.

Pinot Noir
Next, we poured a glass of the Loveblock Pinot Noir 2013 ($37) from grapes cultivated on a 20 acre vineyard, “Someone’s Darling, located in Central Otago, a region found inland in the foothills of the Southern Alps.  World renown for their Pinot Noirs, the area incorporates a variety of valleys with a myriad of aspects, soils, and altitudes. The climate is continental; one risk is frost in the spring and summer. Although summers are hot, a broad diurnal range during the growing season is evident. The Loveblock Pinot Noir was bold and broad with intense aromas of dark red fruit, smoke, violets, herbs, spice and earth. Balanced with bright acidity, drying tannins, and flavors of juicy red fruit, ripe strawberries, and herbed mushrooms, the wine revealed complexity and a lasting, pleasurable finish.

Pinot Noir
Paired with the delectable One-Pan Chicken with Lemon, Olives, and Artichokes, each wine was unique. The fruit forward Craggy Range Winery Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2013 was fresh and lively. Its food friendly profile shone brightly with each sip and the vibrant acidity complemented the lemon, olives, and artichokes. Rich and brooding was the Loveblock Pinot Noir 2013 from Central Otago, a sophisticated wine that revealed texture and taste as it brought out defined flavors in the entrée.

One-Pan Chicken with Lemon, Olives, and Artichokes


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts halves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 3/4 teaspoons black pepper (divided)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 2 cans whole artichokes (14-oz cans) (drained and halved)
  • 2 small red onions (vertically sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cup Castelvetrano or picholine olives (pitted and divided)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lemon (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups cooked pearl couscous


Step 1
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Dust chicken with 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Step 2
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, enameled cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook until brown on both sides, about 6 minutes, turning once.
Step 3
Remove chicken to a platter and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining half of chicken.
Step 4
Add artichokes, onion, and 1 cup of the olives to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is just softened, 3-4 minutes.
Step 5
Add remaining 2 tablespoons flour to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add broth, lemon slices, and 1 tablespoon of the thyme, scraping bottom of skillet to loosen any browned bits.
Step 6
Return chicken to skillet, nestling into the sauce. Cover and cook 20 minutes. Uncover and cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of chicken registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 15 minutes.
Step 7
Meanwhile, coarsely chop remaining 1/2 cup olives. Combine chopped olives, parsley, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Step 8
Serve chicken, artichoke mixture, and chopped olive-herb mixture over couscous.

Pinot Noir pairing

One entrée and two Pinot Noirs from New Zealand provided an infinite amount of pleasure during a perfect stay-at-home “Open the Bottle Night”. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Cheers! ~ Cindy

Following are links to more #OTBN wine and food pairings from my #winePW colleagues. Enjoy!

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will post How #OTBN happens while on vacation in Dominica

Jen from Vino Travels will share Baked sausage rigatoni with Vignavecchia Chianti Classico Riserva

Sue from A Palatable Pastime is pairing Pork Carnitas with Saint Cosme Cotes-Du-Rhone

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog is writing about South of the Border for Open That Bottle Night

Cindy from Grape Experiences is posting Wine and Dine: Two New Zealand Pinot Noirs and One-Pan Chicken

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing Red Wine Chorizo + 1994 Argyle Reserve Oregon Pinot Noir

Lori from Dracaena Wines is sharing Wine is in Boxes. It’s OTBN. Still turned out to be a night not to miss

Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will post Batting A Thousand for OTBN Vol 8- A Celebration With Friends

Jill from L’occasion is opening A Gigondas from the Cellar

Julie from Wine-N-Friends will share A memorable pairing with 2012 Kenzo Murasaki

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator is posting Cheers to Open That Bottle Night 2017 with Champagne from Bollinger

David from Cooking Chat is posting Chanterelle Beef Stew with a Special Wine


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  1. Reply

    great post. I honestly wouldn’t have thought about a Pinot with a dish with lemon. But that is why I love these posts and this group. You get to see other people’s pairings and realize sometimes you have had blinders on and gets you to start thinking in a different way.

    • Cindy Rynning


      Thanks, Lori. This group is so creative and interesting – I love checking out food and wine pairings from these people-in-the-know. The recipes I’ve tried have been delicious!

  2. Michelle Williams


    Both wines sound great. I am really growing to enjoy NZ pinot noirs. And I am always up for a one pan dish. Your chicken looks delicious!

    • Cindy Rynning


      It’s easy and perfect for someone on the go…like you, Michelle! Just be sure to pair it with NZ Pinots!

  3. Reply

    Lucky you, getting not one but two great bottles of Pinots to try. I’m so glad they worked well with those tough flavors. Lemon and olives can be hard.

    • Cindy Rynning


      Lucky, yes, to have two NZ Pinots!! I was a bit dubious with the lemon notes, but they were so subtle that it wasn’t an issue. Instead, the dinner and wine were amazing! Cheers, Wendy!

    • Cindy Rynning


      Awww, thanks, Nancy. It’s a pairing that you and Peter would enjoy. Let me know what you think once you try it.

    • Cindy Rynning


      Thanks, Jen. Re-visiting an old friend is a wonderful thing to do! Cheers!

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