Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher met in the newsroom of the Miami Herald in 1973 and went on to marry and write The Wall Street Journal’s “Tastings” wine column from 1998 to 2009 using a unique ratings scale that ranged from “Yech” to “OK”, “Good”, “Very Good”, “Delicious” and “Delicious!”. Their aim was to write a straightforward wine column answering real questions from real people. They discovered that one of the most asked questions from their readers was about special bottles of wine they had bought themselves, or been given, and most specifically when they should be opened. Their answer was always the same – open it this weekend and celebrate the memories. Eventually they decided to set an annual date for all, encouraging their readers to open their special bottles and write in to share their experiences. This became Open That Bottle Night (OTBN), now celebrated each year on the last Saturday in February.
OTBN became a huge success with readers celebrating and enjoying their great wines rather than holding on to them so long that the wines deteriorated, finding no occasion special enough to pull the cork. Readers’ stories were published in the column, which acquired a huge following, and OTBN parties sprang up around the world. Dorothy and John spoke with Meg Houston Maker last year about their experiences with OTBN and reflected on some of their readers’ letters and how the tastes and smells of the wines connected them with intense memories. A photograph from Greece, for example, pales next to the bottle of wine you brought back from the local taverna.
“wine is a part of life and should be enjoyed”
At the end of 2009, Dorothy & John left The Wall Street Journal but the spirit of Open That Bottle Night lives on. Two Aussie wine gals, Liz O’Connell and Trish Barry, who are determined to ensure the event doesn’t die, have resurrected the cause. Rather than printing stories in the newspaper, Trish and Liz have set up the OTBN Facebook Page where wine lovers can post their comments, stories, pics and videos for all to enjoy.
This year’s Open That Bottle Night takes place on Saturday February 26th. So why not get together with your friends and loved ones and open and enjoy those bottles you’ve been saving – or perhaps host a benefit evening to raise much needed funds for the Queensland Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal for victims of the recent devastating floods? Or why not register for the Tweetup and stay up to date with the latest information?
So mark the date in your diary and dust off the key to the cellar. It’s time for a celebration! We’d love to hear about the wines you’ll be opening this year – why not leave us a comment below?
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