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WSJ Wine Columnists

I wasn’t much of a reader of wine writing until I discovered the Wall Street Journal’s wife-and-husband team, Dottie Gaiter and John Brecher, two of whose columns were the basis of posts of mine (here and here). Like many of their fans, I was stunned, on reading their column last December 26, to come upon their concluding note:

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.

Neither they nor the WSJ said more, then or since. I have missed them. What I valued wasn’t so much any congruence between their taste and mine — I hardly know my taste in any case — but rather their distinctive perspective on wine and its pleasures, the clarity with which it was expressed, and the accessibility of their writing for novices as well as experts. They felt like friends. Their avuncular advice was comforting, not patronizing.

In the months since they were dispatched, the WSJ has continued to publish wine articles in Saturday’s Weekend Journal, contributed by a variety of writers. I have taken brief looks at the articles, but left most unread. Two Saturdays ago, I saw that the wine article was by the novelist Jay McInerney, registered surprise, and moved on. Had I actually taken the trouble to read the piece, or jump to the note at the end, I would have discovered that he was being introduced as one of two new wine columnists, along with Lettie Teague. Two days ago, Teague made her debut. This time I noticed. Maybe it was the drawing of her at the top of the article that suggested to me she might be a regular. I looked for a note at the end, but there was none, such a note having already appeared a week earlier. I did a search and got the desired confirmation — not from the McInerney column of a week earlier but from the inaugural post at the new WSJ blog, “On Wine“, with the title “Introducing Jay and Lettie.”

I still miss my friends Dottie and John, but I’m looking forward to learning more about Jay’s and Lettie’s wine thoughts. The blog post introducing them is a brief conversation between the two. It concludes with Jay’s reply to Lettie’s question, “When it comes to eating, what wine do you think is impossible to match with food?” Jay says, “I can’t think of any wine which is impossible to match with food but I do think that Chateau d’Yquem probably shouldn’t be matched with food. It’s just too damn perfect on its own, and matching it with some sweet dessert is a a terrible idea.”

Gail and I will never be able to think of Chateau d’Yquem without recalling our dinner at Topper’s in Nantucket a few Septembers ago, when Gail asked as we ordered dessert if they had a Sauternes. Our waiter assured us that they did and brought a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem to the table to pour her a glass. It was the best Sauternes she ever had. We were unaware that one pays a premium for Chateau d’Yquem. Such quality doesn’t come cheaply. And since it wasn’t listed on the dessert menu, we hadn’t seen a price. We saw it soon enough, when the check came. Maybe not so much in the world of such wines. A mere $65. But it sure was a surprise to us.

Speaking of expensive glasses of wine, Roger Lowenstein’s new book The End of Wall Street has a revealing anecdote that Daniel Gross quotes in yesterday’s NYT review of the book.

Well into the crisis, with Citi’s stock price in single digits, its chief executive, Vikram Pandit, was spotted having lunch “at Le Bernardin, the top-rated restaurant in New York.” Seeing nothing he wanted by the glass, he “ordered a $350 bottle so that, as he explained, he could savor ‘a glass of wine worth drinking.’ Pandit drank just one glass.” The tableau suggests that Lowenstein’s book is misnamed. Judging by the recent bonuses; by the Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein’s declaration that investment bankers are “doing God’s work”; and by the opposition to comprehensive reform as well as by Pandit’s $350 glass of wine, Wall Street is still very much alive.

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Categories: Journalism, Wine
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