1

Wall Street Journal Wine Column: Pimp My Wine

From 1998 to 2009, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher wrote “Tastings” as the Wall Street Journal wine column. The column was very personal with Gaiter and Brecher making it clear what they liked and disliked.  Although we often disagreed with their reviews and recommendations, we respected their professionalism and willingness to discuss issues via e-mail.  (To its credit, the Journal maintains a web page with links to many of John and Dorothy’s old articles.)  No more.  John and Dorothy retired last year.  Since then the Journal’s wine reviews have been for sale.  One week, Bordeaux are pimped.[1]  The next week it’s wines of Portugal.[2]  There are exciting things happening in the French wine business, but those events are far removed from the stultified traditions of Bordeaux.  (We’ve been especially impressed with some of the wines from Languedoc, but that’s another column.) But today’s column was the last straw.  “Wines That Pack A Little Extra Kick” by Lettie Teague.[3]  As an attempt to justify wines with alcohol levels above 14% the column misses badly.  Consider this unbelievable paragraph: “That’s one thing that the alcohol-haters leave out: Alcohol delivers flavors. “It’s like the fat in the meat,” as Aldo Sohm, wine director of Le Bernardin in New York, once said to me. (I wasn’t sure if he meant it as a good thing, but I decided to take it that way.) “[4] Alcohol delivers flavor?  Yes, the flavor of alcohol.  Try to detect the aromas of a 15% bottle of wine.  You can’t.  The only element you’ll be able to detect is alcohol.  If that’s what you like, go buy an overpriced bottle of yuppie vodka. To say that we miss John and Dorothy is a vast understatement.

[1]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB127076127355574175.html and http://blogs.wsj.com/wine/2010/04/08/bordeaux-2009-does-the-latest-vintage-live-up-to-its-hype/.  Both sites accessed April 17, 2010.

[2]http://blogs.wsj.com/wine/2010/04/15/value-and-exoticism-in-portuguese-wine/.  Accessed April 17, 2010. [3]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303828304575180273604214884.html.  Accessed April 17, 2010. [4] Ibid.