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“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” – Galileo
In 2000, Wall Street Journal ‘Tastings’ columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher started the first ‘Open That Bottle Night,’ encouraging their readers to open a symbolically significant bottle, and then share their stories, making the wine itself the subject of the celebration. They are also the authors of Love By the Glass: Tastings Notes from a Marriage, which is a memoir of their marriage, their careers and their love of wine.
The ‘Tastings’ wine rating scale:
Gaiter and Brecher are not the kind of wine experts that intimidate readers who just want advice in plain English so they won’t embarrass themselves around the wine snobs in their lives. This couple makes wine fun.
The inaugural ‘Open That Bottle Night’ got more responses than any other column they had written, and some of the best stories are in their book. I read it a few years ago while my husband and I were on our anniversary getaway, and it was the perfect accompaniment to our trip.
This year’s ‘Open That Bottle Night’ was last Saturday night, February 25.
We opened a bottle of 2013 Maurice Carrie Moscato, a Muscat Canelli wine, from the Temecula Valley, which was a gift from one of my husband’s colleagues, who is quite knowledgeable about California wines. This is more of a dessert wine, semi-sweet, so best served with something a bit sweet-tart.
I was still writing, and my husband was tired from a long, difficult week at work, so we wanted to do something simple for dinner, and concentrate on the wine. In the afternoon, we pondered the chilly evening and the nature of the wine, and then came up with our menu: Chicken Tortilla Soup, followed by ciabatta rolls with no-sugar-added blackberry jam and slices of Granny Smith apples. The soup and rolls came from our neighborhood market, which has a section of items from local suppliers that are tasty, just-heat-it major improvements over fast food.
We rated the wine as ‘delicious‘ on the ‘Tastings’ scale. The sweetness was subtle, just hinting at apricots and peaches, and went beautifully with all our choices, which made it more versatile that the usual dessert wine. We owe a big thank you to my husband’s colleague, and to Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.
If you’ve been saving a bottle of wine, waiting for an occasion “special” enough to open it, I highly recommend the ‘Tastings’ approach — open that bottle, and make the wine the occasion. We got a lot more than some good wine and a meal, we got something we sorely needed: a relaxing evening together.
Hope all of you had a good weekend too. Happy Shrovetide!
Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage
© 2003 by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher – Random House