Last week, I visited the Wall Street Journal website to read the most recent article by my favourite wine writers, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher … it wasn’t there! They retired at the end of 2009.
They had my dream job: they are a married couple who, for a dozen years, had written the best columns on wine that I have ever read. AND they convinced their newspaper to pick up their wine bills (I’m still working on Darrell on that one).
They were the ones who made me wish that I, too, could write about wine. Then the Yukon, What’s Up Yukon and you readers, made it possible.
Gaiter and Brecher’s outlook on wine — “There is no ‘right’ answer to what constitutes a great wine” — has become my wine-tasting mantra. Their informal and very accessible writing style and approach always made tasting wine a fun and non-intimidating thing.
I will really miss their philosophy that the wine itself is inexorably linked to the experience you are having as you taste it. And I loved that they always saved one last glass until after they finished the dishes, to experience what it tasted like at the end of the night, after it had fully opened up and reacted with the air.
They have written a number of books on wine, both collections of their writings, and co-authored an autobiography, Love by the Glass – Tasting Notes From A Marriage.
Early in their wine-writing years, they started OTBN, or “Open That Bottle Night”, and across the US, as well as around the world, the word spread.
More and more wine enthusiasts began to participate in this annual evening.
With the passing of their column, there will no longer be their annual reminder to pencil it into your calendar, but last year, I adopted their idea and suggested that Yukoners start to participate. So mark down the last Saturday in February, which falls this year on the 27th, to open a special bottle of wine.
Many of us have a special bottle that we have bought, or been given, and saved for a special occasion. Each year we don’t drink it, we subconsciously “raise the bar” for how important the occasion will have to be to warrant opening that bottle.
Let’s resolve not to miss the opportunity to create a new and happy wine memory. God forbid we die and leave it to our children (grin!).
So, sit down with your partner, or a good friend who might enjoy the experience, and plan a dinner around the wine. Choose some food ideas that would go well with your wine. Chat with the folks at the Liquor Store or other wine enthusiasts, or search the Internet for ideas if you are stumped by what to serve.
Buy a back-up bottle of something similar in type to go with your meal, just in case your wine has gone “off”. And if you want some great fun, invite a couple of special friends to share the experience.
Plan the evening, cook the dinner, set the table, light some candles, and set the bottle upright if it has been stored on its side (four to five hours before serving, so that any sediment will settle to the bottom).
If the cork turns out to be old and crumbly as you open the wine, have a paper coffee filter that you can filter out the cork pieces.
And tell your story of the wine to your friends, share the memories of where it came from, and recognize that these bottles are time capsules of our hearts … containers of our memories of lives past, and precious fleeting things … as well as, hopefully, wines worth savouring.
So give it some thought, and help spread the word about OTBN, Saturday, Feb. 27.
And write and tell me about your OTBN. What you drank, what you served, where you drank it. Share with your friends or that one special companion why the wine was special to you, and how it tasted to you.
If I can include part of your story in a post-OTBN article, I’d like your permission to do so. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, mark it on your calendars: Saturday, Feb. 27, The Yukon’s second “Open That Bottle Night!”