Catching up with Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher.

Dorothy J. Gaiter and John BrecherOpen That Bottle Night is always the last in Saturday in February, making it Saturday February 26th this year. You therefore better get thinking what you plan on opening!

Every year since 2000, on a special Saturday night in February, friends, couples and groups around the world get together to enjoy “special” bottles of wine, champagne and spirits. The bottle that you enjoy, traditionally, is one that you have been saving for some special event that, so far, has never quite happened.
Open That Bottle Night was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher in the year 2000, and has been celebrated every year since.  

The Wall Street Journal (and widely syndicated) wine writers ended their column on December 26th 2009 and parted ways with the newspaper after 12 years, the husband-and-wife team announced their departure at the end of their Christmas Day article.

"This is our 579th and last ‘Tastings’ column. The past 12 years — a full case! — have been a joy, not because of the wine but because we had an opportunity to meet so many of you, both in person and virtually,"  they wrote.

I randomly managed to catch up with the couple for an interview on this website. I have searched all over the Internet, and believe this is possibly the first time the couple have been interviewed since their departure from the WSJ. They also just recently launched their Facebook Page which you need to check out!


So where have you both been? Your audience has missed you!

          We took a year off. We graduated from college in 1973 and immediately went to work – both at the Miami Herald on June 4, 1973. That’s the day we met and fell in love. We worked for the next 36 years without a break – and it was time for one. Our two girls are both in their last years of college, so it was a particularly good moment. We spent the year enjoying life and trying to catch up on our 20-year to-do list. You know that closet you’ve been talking about reorganizing for the past decade? Well, we did it! Gosh, we even reorganized one of our cellars and found bottles that we had totally forgotten about. And, after conducting wine tastings for our column pretty much every night for 12 years, we enjoyed the freedom to drink whatever we wanted. We even tried some local beers!   

What is the biggest thing you have both learnt from your years in the wine industry?

          Well, we never considered ourselves part of the wine industry. We spent our entire careers being part of the journalism industry and writing about wine was just a part of that, a wonderful part, in the last 12 years of an almost four-decade long career. As wine writers since 1998, our biggest surprise in terms of wine was how fast the world of wine changes. On one hand, it seems immutable – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Lafite seem timeless. In fact, though, the pace of change is astonishing. These days, new regions and even new grape types suddenly become available and often become popular. And the downside is true, too: Sometimes types of wine become so popular that winemakers all over the world start producing garbage and charge too much for it. Of course, by that time, all sorts of people are invested in that type of wine – not just producers but wine shops and consumers – so no one was very happy when we urged people to avoid whole categories of wine, but someone really has to do it. Sometimes it’s simply time to move on to a different type of wine.
          Our biggest non-wine surprise was how much romance exists in the world. You don’t read much about this on a regular basis, and certainly not in a lot of wine writing, but our writing seemed to have given people permission to be romantic, to really enjoy wine, life and, mostly, each other. We loved hearing from our readers because they made us optimistic that romance will always triumph. 

What are some particularly exciting wines/regions at the moment for you both? Any particular regions that still represent a great value that are up and coming?

          There’s never been a better time to be a wine drinker with an open mind because all sorts of countries are desperately trying to break into the American market, often with wines that are excellent bargains. South Africa’s Sauvignon Blanc, Argentina’s Malbec, Chile’s Carmenere, Austria’s Grüner Veltliner – these are just a few examples of good values on the shelves. But we would also never pass up a value-priced Tannat from Uruguay, for example, because it’s fun to try something new and many of the newer wines are well-made and interesting for the price.
          And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention that some old classics are still great values. Inexpensive Bordeaux, for instance, is often a truly world-class bargain. We have spent years trying to convince people that Riesling is the wine world’s most underappreciated wine. We think we made a little progress, but not a lot. 

So Open That Bottle is coming up on Sat Feb 26th, a night that the both of you essentially created, which bottle(s) do you plan on opening?

          Please check out our advancer story at, which talks about our bottle, which is very special to us. We will be live at that night and we’re hoping everyone will join together and talk about their wines with us. 

Any new projects for the future i.e. books etc.?

          We’re just starting now to think about what we do next. Our older daughter graduates from college in May, so it has been hard to think about anything else! In the meantime we’d be delighted to hear from people on our Facebook page!

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