Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher are the husband-and-wife team behind the wine column Tastings, which appears weekly in The Wall Street Journal. With recession in mind, they join Fresh Air to talk about finding the right wine for the right price.
Before launching the column, Brecher was the Journal's Page One editor; earler, he had worked for Newsweek and the Miami Herald.
Gaiter had worked at the Journal as a national reporter covering race relations, and had previously been a reporter with The New York Times. They've been a couple since 1973.
In their 2002 memoir Love by the Glass: Tastings from a Marriage, the couple details how they grew up in segregated Florida towns — Gaiter is black, Brecher is white — and how they met, married, had two kids and drank some memorable wine along the way.
In their conversation with Fresh Air host Terry Gross, they break down their wine recommendations for holiday giving — and holiday celebrating — by varietal and price point:
Wines At Around $10
Good values, and some fine surprises if you're willing to experiment
• Chilean Sauvignon Blancs
• Argentine varietals like Malbec and Torrontés
• Italian reds like Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Wines At Around $20
Where wonderful wine-drinking starts
• New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
• South African Chenin Blancs (sometimes called Steen) and Pinotages
California has long been a reliable source of good wine, and Gaiter and Brecher have been fond lately of wines from the Bogle, Kunde and J. Lohr wineries.
But all 50 states have commercial wineries, they point out, and many of them produce some really good wine. The trick, they say, is to "get out of your comfort zone" and try something you've never tasted.
And for sparkling wine on a budget? They highly recommend Cava, a methode champenoise from Spain; Cristalino is one label they like.
And if you want to splurge — on, say, a $30 bottle for New Year's Eve — go for a mid-range Champagne or sparkling wine. Schramsberg sparkling wines or Heidsieck Champagnes (from Piper Heidsieck, Heidsieck & Co, or Charles Heidsieck) are good bets, they say.
As for pouring and drinking tips? Gaiter and Brecher explain why ordering wine by the glass at a restaurant is a bad idea, why flutes are better for Champagne, and why plain old all-purpose glasses are better than those expensive specialty wine glasses.