Say it ain't so! I opened up this week's Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Journal prepared to settle in for a leisurely reading of my favorite wine column written by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.
Titled "The Mysterious Heart of Deliciousness, the column offered encouragement to wine drinkers to trust their judgement about their wine preferences. Then, at the end of the column, these words "This is our 579th and last "Tastings" column. What??? I was frankly taken aback. The Tastings column has been a staple of the Weekend Journal section, and a weekly read by people like me who enjoyed the non snobby way they embraced the world of wine. It was clear that they could converse easily and expertly about bouquet, terroir, and the impact of the weather on Pinot Noir grapes in 1997, but they wrote about wine in an accessible and down to earth way. I embraced their mantra of try something new.
A quick check of several well known wine blogs reveals that their exit is a mystery to all. Gaiter and Brecher did not explain why they chose to end the column.
I can speculate, of course:
Maybe they were tired of writing it. After all, when they started both of their kids were at home, and now they are empty nesters (One of the reasons the couple's column was so popular was that it was very personal. Through the years, I've learned a lot about their personal lives.)
Is it possible that these two, who always championed new wines and new wine trends, have said all they have to say about wine? Nah, I don't believe that.
Could it be that they were tired of tasting wine on deadline? Possible. They've often written about how the column-driven tasting and note taking didn't allow for sipping and savoring the wine--the pure enjoyment of the wine experience.
Or maybe they want to gaze into each other's eyes without the reflection from the glow of the computer screen? Likely. Having spent a little time with them, I can tell you they are a couple's couple. They enjoy each other's company and may have longed for some non work togetherness .
Selfishly, I want them right there in the paper where they've been for more than a decade. They were my wine gurus--the go-to experts on all things wine, and the ones who shunned wine geekism.
Even though I own all of their books, I will miss the weekly column which has been a touchstone of my wine journey. I'm not the only one. Wine retailers owe much to their unbought and unbossed wine boosterism.
And wine lovers will miss Open That Bottle Night, the special event they created. Held the last Saturday in February, OTBN freed wine hoarders from waiting for the 'right' occasion to open a special bottle. I will miss the post OTBN column during which they shared the stories of how readers enjoyed (or didn't) the long stored wine.
Gaiter and Brecher closed their last column this way: "The past twelve 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. Thank you."
No, thank you, Dottie and John. I've got a special bottle ready to open February 27, 2010, and I will toast you, and your enduring contribution to wine lovers everywhere.