John and Dottie bid farewell to the WSJ Tastings column

“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. Thank you.”

That was how John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter concluded their column in today’s WSJ. They don’t elaborate on their future plans; No editor’s note appears to indicate what will happen with wine coverage at country’s highest circulation newspaper.

When John and Dottie, as they were known to their readers, started writing the column, both came from news sections of the paper as opposed to wine, food or criticism. They asserted their independence from the trade, purchasing wines for review at retail and tasting them blind at home, with dinner over several nights. They rated wines on a scale of “Yech”, “OK”, “Good”, “Very Good”, “Delicious” to “Delicious!” Their column was often very personal, touching on wine in their family experiences, such as vacations on cruise ships or at Disney World. Indeed, their final column is a clarion call for how context influences the wines we drink.

But their signal contribution to wine writing was Open That Bottle Night, encouraging readers to pull a symbolically significant bottle from their cellar and open it just for the heck of it on the last Saturday in February. Readers then sent in letters with their experiences that John & Dottie rounded up in a subsequent column. It was inspired and interactive. And it won them legions of fans.

Best of luck to them in their future endeavors.

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46 Responses to “John and Dottie bid farewell to the WSJ Tastings column”

  1. Dr Vino,

    Thanks for posting this info. I read their column online Christmas night and was floored when I read their goodbye at the bottom of the article. I have read their column the past ten years, learned a lot from them and they will be missed.

    Keep up the great work as I’ll need to help fill their shoes!

  2. I’m canceling my sbscription.

  3. That is freaky… WTF???

  4. I’m also canceling my subscription!

  5. Looks like WSJ budget-cutting to me. I’m horrified.

  6. I read this yesterday online and was extremely disappointed. They were such a great source for wine lovers. It was not just because of the great wines they recommended but more so for the fascinating stories they always told around the wine experience.

    So long John and Dottie. It has been a great ride. Thank you for all the wonderful moments.

    – Adi

  7. Cannot believe they are gone! Will WSJ still have a wine column? It won’t be as good as theirs has been

  8. This was rumored at last week. Sad.

  9. I will surely pull out something precious this February… to share with those that are even more precious. Thank You John and Dottie for remembering wines rightful place in our lives. The root of why we all have this obsession with this fermented juice… the connection it gives us to our loves and our hates.

    “After-dinner talk across the walnuts and the wine. ”
    – Tennyson

    🙂 Happy New Year! -Audrey

  10. Can’t believe that they just decided to pack it in. WSJ must have a hand in this. Hopefully they will show up somewhere else soon. I really enjoyed reading the column each week.


  11. I was shocked on Saturday when I read this at the end of their column. Out of the blue, no explanation. I really enjoyed this column, learned so much from it, and will really miss it. If this was the WSJ’s doing — shame on them!

    Thank you, Dottie and John, for all that you brought into our lives.

  12. Murdoch musta done it. We seriously need to boycott anything FOX related. All the huge monopolies in media and elsewhere are killing diversity!
    We miss you already Dottie and John.
    Doctor of Vino, please help us through this tough period.

  13. We have their books and read “Tastings” every week. They are our favorite wine writers. I hear Dick Cheney and “W” will be doing the “Tastings” column in the future. Happy now Rupert?

  14. So maybe this is the last time I’ll have to say it:
    John and Dorothy (I never call anybody Dottie) seem like very nice, down-to-earth people, and obviously they’ve gained a large following. But just as I wouldn’t look to the Wine Spectator for financial advice, I wouldn’t look to The Wall Street Journal for wine advice.

  15. Theirs was one of the columns I’ve read the longest and this is truly unfortunate as I enjoyed their perspective and unpretentious style even if Dottie was a better writer than a video presence 🙂

  16. I agree with your comment about OTBN, Dr. V. I think Dottie and John’s column did a lot to build a more open and informed wine culture in the U.S. during its 12 year run and I hope they continue their work somewhere else in due time. Maybe a cable TV show? That would be fun!

  17. “But just as I wouldn’t look to the Wine Spectator for financial advice, I wouldn’t look to The Wall Street Journal for wine advice.”

    With all due respect that’s just a stupid perspective and insulting to two people who’ve done so much in this area. It’s not a column about wine written by WSJ financial experts. It’s a column about wine in the WSJ written – quite well — by knowledgeable wine lovers. If you’ve read their work, I’m shocked that you’d say what you said. If you haven’t, then maybe you should do your homework a bit before demonstrating your ignorance.

  18. I myself would never use the Wall Street Journal for financial advice.
    Not real big on using the Spectator for wine advice, either.

  19. The great thing about Dottie and John’s column was that it was about the fun and adventure of wine more than connoisseurship. Their perspective, as expert wine consumers was refreshing, unique and accessible to a huge number of wine lovers. Hopefully their thoughtful and personal wine adventure will soon find another venue.

  20. I very much agree with Steve’s perspective. Their column de-mystified wine without dumbing it down, helping me to move with confidence beyond Merlot-Cab-Chardonnay. I will miss them very much and also hope they resurface in another venue.

  21. Just havin’ a little fun, Peter. I have always admired them for their unpretentious approach to wine. I reserve the right to be puzzled by some of their comparisons, and occasionally mystified by the prices they came up with. But on the whole, they have been very beneficial–they created a whole new audience of people who not only buy but really appreciate wine.

  22. […] Dr. Vino […]

  23. I am so sad to hear this! My best friend, who is a fan of Dottie and John’s work, starting sending me links to their WSJ columns a few weeks ago, and I became an avid reader immediately, and thoroughly enjoyed every column. It’s just my luck. It’s like when I subscribed to Gourmet magazine a few months ago, and literally two months later, they folded! And now this. Sigh. I really hope they find another outlet for their refreshing and entertaining take on wine, it will be much missed.

  24. I have read their books and read their columns religiously. I will miss them greatly and hope that they end up at another place where we can all enjoy their wonderful writing and delightful personalities.

  25. John and Dottie:

    Please tell us what you will be doing next, and whether you will continue writing about wine. A weekly blog would be great! May be harder to do big tastings without deeper pockets for 50-bottle wine purchases though.
    We miss you and hope to read more from you!

  26. Soon after Murdoch took over the Journal, his “lieutenants” moved John and Dottie to Saturdays from their prime time Friday spot, which was a big disappointment in itself to lose the “Let’s stop at the wine store on the way home from work” ritual that so many of us had enjoyed for so long.

    But that’s when the writing was first on the wall (Street Journal) that there was no place for their special approach in the “new” publication being crafted by NewCorp.

    Fortunately, John and Dottie don’t need the Journal as much as the Journal needed them. They can now find their voice in the new order that is fast overtaking the old model for distributing news and ideas.

    Keep it up guys, we all look forward to your next chapter!

  27. It was very enjoyable for every Friday ( and later on Saturday) to read their article about wine. I was surprised with their message in December 09.
    To John and Dotie: Your weekly column is already missed! Good luck in your next endeavor! And as you wrote in your message some time ago: May your glass be full every time!

  28. […] will replace John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter who ended twelve years as wine columnists in December. Permalink | Comments (0) | SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Just heard: Jay McInerney will be the […]

  29. the pair were the best, hope to see them back in the meantime i will cancel my wsj subscription.

  30. I am shocked and saddened to hear the news. They were my favorite columnists in the WSJ. I enjoyed and adopted their philsophy/approach to enjoying wine. They were inspiring. Good luck to them, and let’s hope their views will still be heard.

  31. Disappointed and so surprised. I loved to read wine tips as well as happenings within your family. Used so many recommendations. Will miss you.
    Take care and Thanks.

  32. This is a great loss for the WSJ and its readers. D & J’s column on their 12 best wines put me in touch with some small, California gems, with whom I still correspond. I’m no longer in a hurry to read the Friday edition. All good things come to an end.

  33. I will surely miss the thoughtful wing insites. You inspired me to try new things and enjoy them. Thanks Dick

  34. I know this is late, but I felt I should post something as well. I too was distressed that they were moved to Saturdays but still read the column, and have for close to 10 years.

    Because of John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, I tried Spanish sparkling wines, Chilean and Argentine reds, opened long held French Bordeaux’ in February and spread the word to friends and family about new discoveries.

    The Journal has continued its slid into a Fox-like instrument, sadly.

  35. @Keith
    My sentiments and my experiences reflect yours. Tried many new wines, celebrated OTBN many times.
    While heading towards one OTBN, I searched for and finally found an old friend who had given me a bottle of wine when she left our company about 20 years ago. I opened that bottle on OTBN that year. I found that my friend had opened her own winery ( after a career in computer science. Would never have found her without their column
    The newer wine writers at the Murdoch-ing WSJ are much more conventional and are much less original and fun that John and Dottie.
    I wonder if there is a place (blog?) where many of us could share comments like yours and mine about their influence on our quality of life. I guess it would fill up pretty fast!
    Facebook fan site, anyone?

  36. OK, I found it. Here is a piece on OTBN from them in Feb 2010:

    Here is the Facebook page;. Click on Boxes at the top right, and then select between the two dialogues.

  37. Come on people. They wrote the worst wine column around. It was self-centered, poorly sourced, uninformed, and almost infantile in its approach to wine. There were more “we”s and “our”s than there were sentences. I stopped reading it long ago when it got so self-indulgent. I didn’t care to read about their anniversaries, birthdays, or daughters. For what other columnists do you know their daughters names (Zoe and Media) or where they vacation?

  38. Avoid flame wars…

  39. I started drinking wine long b4 discovering the column but must say that my adventure in wine grew with the column. I have now moved to Europe and continued to read the column online. How sad to see a great column go…. and the hell with Murdoch.

  40. RE: April 12, 2010 comment above.

    Does Chaim perhaps work for the New Street Journal?


    I had the good pleasure of interviewing John and Dottie on one of my former shows back in ’05 on the social-political radio program Speak Your Piece!

    They were about as classy and engaging interviewees that one will find about a lifestyle product without sounding hokey and contrived.

    Their professional and personal passion resonated throughout. I think there is only much to be grateful for and little to find at fault.

    In short, good people with diverse talent sharing wine insights for the masses.

  42. Wow, I was out of the loop. I wondered what happened to my automatic emails of John’s and Dottie’s column. It’s like the loss of a friend – a friend who was entertaining and expert in one of my passions.

  43. I just kept hoping they would reappear somwhere else. I miss them.

  44. […] Teague, on Saturday (even though rumors had been flying on the internets for months). They replace John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter who left the paper in December after writing the column for 12 […]

  45. I have sorely missed Dorothy and John this past year. Now when I come to the wine section in the Wall St J, I simply move on. I refuse to read anyone else’s take on wine. Wall St J made a serious mistake in letting them go. My respect for the Wall St J dropped dramatically.

  46. […] that Melissa and James have teamed up to write together. I hope to make them the new “Dottie and John,” the duo who, for 12 years, wrote a tasting column for the Wall Street Journal. There first […]


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