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Books for the wine lover on your holiday list

How to love wine?  Now that’s a loaded title.  But when you dig in to Eric Asimov’s latest book, you realize that it is a story of his life, how he didn’t love wine, and how he learned to love wine.

I had the pleasure of hearing Eric speak to an audience of bloggers in Virginia in 2011, and found him personable and likeable. His key directive at that time was for all wine writers, and wine lovers alike, to learn about wine by experiencing wine.  And to experience wine, you need to taste wine; a lot of wine.  Drinking wine on a regular basis, widely and varied, allows you to explore wine; furthermore, reading about wine, allows you to explore wines that you might be able to access in your corner wine shop.  But, herein lies the crux of the situation as a wine neophyte:  to drink and experience a lot of wine, you need to be able to access this wine with out being intimidated by the wine shop or tasting notes, or in a larger scale, wine writing.

Asimov became a wine critic by happenstance.  A journalist by trade, he was exploring wine for personal pleasure when his career brought him to New York.  While weaving his way through Texas BBQ, graduate school, and newspaper jobs in various cities prior to New York,  Asimov illustrates about how he learned about wine, and investigates why wine has become such an intimidating subject.  With contemporaries like Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker, Asimov explores the art of a wine review with humor and wit, while using his knowledge of journalism as well as wine to discuss the subject. Digging in to particular wines, he shows us how the same wine can illicit a very different tasting note from different people.

What does this mean?  It means there is more than one way to love wine.  This memoir attempts to take the anxiety out of wine, boost your wine confidence, and transform someone who might like wine, to a true wine lover.  The author sees through the fluff of the tasting note, and digs in to the meat of the subject.  Starting off his love of wine with cheap jugs purchased in Italy, France and the local grocery store, he makes it clear that a $100 bottle is not always better than a $10 bottle.  The most important thing is that you like a wine, which makes it great and enjoyable.

Finally landing a plum gig at the New York Times as their resident restaurant critic and now chief wine critic, Asimov is the antithesis of the traditional wine writer.  He sorts through “drinking by numbers” and exploring the wine shop as a way of higher learning.

This is a must read for any wine lover or any book lover, as it pulls the silk blindfold off of the wine critic’s sow’s ears, and shows us that the flowerly language of wine reviews can be distilled down to the simple terms:  how many words are there for cherry, berry or fig?  Why does one writer use fig in every red wine?  Asimov helps pull out the meat of the tasting note while guiding us along his personal journey of wine discovery.

Pick one up today for yourself, or for any wine lover that might like a great story!

 

 

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