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How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto Hardcover – 6 Nov 2012
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James Beard Foundation Book Award Nominee for the the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductee (No Source)
James Beard Foundation Book Award Nominee for Beverages (No Source)
“A wonderfully intimate memoir-cum-manifesto from a writer comfortable with his own ability as a wine writer who’s not afraid to say it as it is. . . . One of the more enjoyable and fluid wine books to read all year.” (Jancis Robinson)
“Wine aficionados are always bickering among themselves. . . . In his delicious new book, New York Times chief wine critic Eric Asimov cuts through all of this background noise and reminds us of the elemental and undeniable fact that wine is ... sheer pleasure.” (Oregon Live)
“Eric Asimov sees through the snobby froth of 100-point scores and tutti-frutti tasting notes to the realities of wine, ‘staple grocery and occasional star,’ as he calls it. How to become America’s most trusted wine critic? Read it here.” (Hugh Johnson)
“In his highly personal, utterly unpretentious book, Asimov makes clear that the most important thing about wine is enjoyment. Any deeper understanding--and for him food, culture, farming, and more count for a lot--depends on it.” (Ed Behr)
“This book might have been titled A Healthy Dose of Fresh Air. How modestly and reasonably Asimov dares to slay the wine dragons. I reveled in each and every thrust and parry.” (Kermit Lynch)
“Excellent . . . [a] thoughtful read. . . . Like a crisp glass of Sancerre, How to Love Wine is an especially refreshing breeze through the hot air and pretension that’s so prevalent in wine culture.” (Sacramento Bee)
“A friendly, well-written approach to enjoying wine, full of low-stress recommendations to help avoid wine anxiety.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Forget the snooty trappings of wine connoisseurship—just drink up and enjoy, argues this simultaneously down–to–earth and romantic meditation…. Asimov sprinkles in lively reminiscences of his journalism career and the idiosyncratic culture of wine cognoscenti, and enchants and reassures by his warm savoring of the drinking experience.” (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
For many people, wine is an anxiety-inducing mystery as arcane as quantum physics, and with so many varieties, it's difficult to know what to choose. As New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov argues, that puzzling uncertainty often prevents people from buying and ordering wine, depriving them of an exquisite, deeply satisfying experience.
In How to Love Wine, Asimov examines why the American wine culture produces such feelings of anxiety and suggests how readers can overcome their fears and develop a sense of discovery and wonder as they explore the diversity and complexity of the world of wine. With warmth, candor, and intelligent authority, Asimov interweaves his professional knowledge and insights with engaging personal stories of his love affair with wine, a lifelong passion that began when he was a graduate student on a budget.
In a direct, down-to-earth manner, Asimov discusses favorite vineyards, wine's singular personalities, the "tyranny of tasting notes"—those meaningless, overwritten wine descriptions that often pass for criticism today—and current wine issues.
Throughout, he incorporates in-depth discussions of beautiful wines, both easy to find and rare, and pays special attention to those that have been particularly meaningful to him. Thought-provoking and enjoyable, How to Love Wine will help diminish readers' anxiety, bolster their confidence, and transform them into true wine lovers.See all Product description
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Thus, we have Asimov's journey from ordinary suburban American life through to the Big Apple and annual tastings of Romanee Conti et al. All the way through, he's keen to stress his ordinariness, the moderacy of his personal income and even the limitations of his taste buds.
Blind tasting is a particular bugbear. Not only, he tells us, are his own guesses inaccurate but even to play this kind of game is to divorce wine from its essential linkeages, not just with food, but with friends or family. Wine for him is for drinking not tasting.
All very well, but Asimov therefore bypasses the whole Emperor's New Clothes aspect of wine culture: i.e. that people's taste buds are blinded by a glamourous label. Asimov says 'my taste buds are often inaccurate but I know I prefer J.J. Prum's rieslings and Jim Clendenen's Pinot Noir...' but does he really? Might he not just have bought into the romance of a conversation with a particular vigneron and be transferring that sentiment on to his tastebuds? In which case, he doesn't like a particular style of wine so much as admire a particular lifestyle of vigneron. In order to highlight his own humility, he undercuts his tasting powers to the extent that you wonder what kind of wine critic he is at all. A theatre critic never emphasises his/her own illiteracy, for example; Matt Kramer has made similar points, but somehow with more conviction.
For sure, Asimov comes across as a thoroughly decent, likeable guy who knows he has led a somewhat charmed work life, and actually I agree with many of his observations, especially about the limitations of the mass tasting. Can one really focus on wine number 63 in a line-up?
But equally, he peddles some myths which need busting e.g. "to develop your love of wine, you must develop a good relationship with your local wine merchant". Now this may have been true in the 1980s when the only way to get access to most interesting wine was through the shop down the road, but in a post-www world, when anyone can order pretty much anything, and in which wine opinions are strewn like confetti across the net through blogs and forums, who needs a local wine merchant? Fine if they are nice, but completely unnecessary.
Anyway, I still read this with pleasure, but I had hoped for more. Could the New York Times really not find anyone more inspiring? This is not in the same league as Jancis Robinson, Andrew Jefford or Matt Kramer. Try "Matt Kramer on Wine" before you get this.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This truly is a book by someone who loves wine for people who want to know more about it/learn how to love it.
It is a quick and great read.
I recommend this book for the person who wants to enjoy wine and not get all wound up in the nuances of the ' Enlightened Wine Critics'.
This book aims to demistify all of this terminology and return wine to its rightful place as an expression of terroir, culture and community. As I read the book, I couldn't help but think of The Emperors New Clothes with Eric having the guts to see it and expose it for what it is.
I love Eric's work for the NYTimes so I was not surprised that I loved this book as well.