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Unreserved Wine Talk

236 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


116: Open That Bottle Night with Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher

Do you have a bottle of wine that you’ve been holding onto for a special occasion? Are you curious about how much an old bottle you’ve been keeping in your cellar is worth and whether you should open it soon? Would you like to take a peek behind-the-scenes at how two of the world’s most successful wine columnists taste wines?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, journalists, authors and wine columnists.

You can find the wines we discussed at


  • How did growing up in the segregated South inspire Dottie to become a journalist?
  • What made John recognize the power of good journalism at a young age?
  • What was the worst moment of Dottie and John’s writing careers?
  • Which commencement address was a special honour for Dottie?
  • Which important story made John’s proudest moment in his journalism career so far?
  • What was it like becoming part of the Wine Writers Collection at UC Davis Library?
  • What was Martha Stewart’s connection to Dottie and John’s Wall Street Journal column?
  • Why did Dottie and John end up drinking Château Latour on The Today Show?
  • How did Dottie and John meet?
  • What was the first bottle of wine Dottie and John shared?
  • How did their honeymoon experience of Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve 1968 lead to meeting renowned winemaker André Tchelistcheff?
  • How did wine change Dottie and John’s lives?
  • What is it about wine that makes us slow down and appreciate the present?
  • Why should you visit winemakers?
  • How did bottles of Taittinger Champagne end up in a birdbath?
  • What role did wine play at the wedding of Dottie and John’s daughter, Media?
  • Why should you seek out a wine merchant you can talk to?
  • Why did Dottie and John make the switch from writing about news to wine?
  • What was the unique approach Dottie and John took to their Wall Street Journal wine column?
  • Why is Dottie excited about the proliferation of wine writers and bloggers?
  • How did Oregon Pinot Noirs spur vehement disagreements between Dottie and John?
  • Who are the wine jerks?
  • How does the “exclusivity” of wine still show up today?
  • What has been Dottie’s experience as a Black woman participating in industry tasting events?
  • How can each of us play our part in making our worlds more equitable and inclusive?
  • Where did the idea for Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) come from?
  • What was the response to the first OTBN?
  • Where is the most unusual place to have participated in OTBN?
  • Why do we resist opening our special bottles of wine?
  • Why should you do OTBN as often as you can?
  • Which wine will Dottie, John and I open for OTBN 2021?
  • How has OTBN been embraced widely in popular culture and across borders?


Key Takeaways
  • I loved their stories about how they met and fell in love with each other and with wine. I also enjoyed going behind-the-scenes with their tasting and writing process. It’s as rigorous as their non-wine journalism.
  • I admire how Dottie and John approached Tastings as a column about life, not simply wine. They connected with so many readers because of that and inspired a passion for wine by making it accessible without dumbing it down.
  • I appreciated hearing Dottie’s experiences as a Black woman in the world of wine. I’m motivated to interview more people of colour on this podcast. I already have some in mind, but please let me know if you have suggestions.
  • Love the motivation behind Open that Bottle Night! I’m so motivated to participate in OTBN this year! You’ll find out which two wines were my finalists for the decision, and why I chose the one I did during our Watch Party on February 24th. I want to know which wine you chose too!


Watch Party

Join me for the debut Watch Party of the video of this conversation that I’ll be live-streaming for the very first time on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video on Wednesday, February 24th at 7 pm eastern.

Click on the "Interested" or "Going" buttons below so that you'll be notified when we go live:

I’ll be jumping into the comments on all three platforms as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?



You could win a personally signed copy of Dottie and John's book, Love By The Glass, a beautifully written memoir and love story that also teaches you lots about wine.

How to Win

All you have to do is just pick your favourite social media channel -- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn -- and post about which bottle you’re going to open on Open That Bottle Night, before Saturday, February 27th.

You'll get an additional entry for each social post you do, so feel free to post on all four social media platforms. You'll also get a bonus entry for each wine-loving friend you tag.

I’ll re-share your stories and posts with my followers so that you get more followers!

Use these tags and hashtags when you post on your fave social media channel:

  • Instagram @dottieandjohn @nataliemacleanwine
  • Facebook @winecouple @natdecants
  • Twitter @winecouple @nataliemaclean
  • LinkedIn @nataliemaclean

Hashtags for all platforms:

#otbn #natdecants


I’ll select the winner from those of you who participate before Saturday, February 27th!

Good luck, and I can't wait to see (and share) what you post!


About Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher conceived and wrote The Wall Street Journal's wine column, "Tastings," from 1998 to 2010. They’ve published four best-selling wine books and created the annual, international "Open That Bottle Night" (OTBN), a celebration of wine and friendship. Their column for that first event was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It’s coming up this Saturday, February 27th. We’ll dig into what it’s all about during our conversation. Before writing about wine, both Dorothy and John had distinguished careers in journalism as reporters and editors at The Miami Herald, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.  


To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the

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