How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto

Overview

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 ...

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How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forget the snooty trappings of wine connoisseurship—just drink up and enjoy, argues this simultaneously down-to-earth and romantic meditation. New York Times wine critic Asimov (The New York Times Guide to Restaurants) confronts an alleged crisis of “wine anxiety” among the untutored with a clashing blend of common sense and mysticism. He gives straightforward advice on self-education—drink many affordable wines and take notes on what you like—and pithily skewers the “taste notes” style of wine writing, with its litanies of arcane aromas that proclaim expertise while conveying no information. Unfortunately, his own attempts to peer into the soul of wines and find their sublime connections to terroir can at times be just as nebulous: one wine he condemns for its “spiritless flaccidity,” another he praises as “luminous and pure, delicate but not fragile.” But 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. (Nov.)
Hugh Johnson
“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.”
Kirkus Reviews
A wine expert who finds fault with tasting notes, wine scores and blind tasting claims that "what's missing in many people's experience of wine is a simple sense of ease." We live in a golden age of wine drinking, writes New York Times chief wine critic Asimov, and he wants readers to experience "the pleasure of enjoying the wine, then the pleasure of learning about it." The author offers up his own unlikely path to falling in love with wine by way of Austin, Chicago and New York City. Asimov discusses American wine culture and its shortcomings, many of which contribute to the wine anxiety of fledgling oenophiles. "American wine culture," he writes, "ignores the simple emotional relationship with wine that is the basis for a lifelong attachment." To further your wine education, Asimov recommends finding a good wine shop and asking a salesperson to select a mixed case of 12 different wines in the $15 to $20 range. Sit down and linger over these bottles, he writes, enjoy them with meals and friends and record your experiences. Order another case informed by your own notes. Once you have narrowed your focus, Asimov advises reading books and maybe taking a class to help organize your thoughts. The author considers wine an expression of culture, giving hints of the nature and meaning of the wine and the region. He has a soft spot in his heart for smaller, older vineyards that still embody perseverance, tradition and the local culture. "[A] great wine can be so expressive of its origins," he writes, "of where the grapes are grown, and of the people who grew them and turned those grapes into wine." A friendly, well-written approach to enjoying wine, full of low-stress recommendations to help avoid wine anxiety.
No Source
James Beard Foundation Book Award Nominee for Beverages
Sacramento Bee
“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.”
Oregon Live
“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.”
Jancis Robinson
“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.”
Ed Behr
“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.”
Kermit Lynch
“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.”
Booklist
“Wine fanatics, or those angling for entry to the world of wine, will find comfort in…Asimov’s down–to–earth discussion of loving wine. Moreover, what he argues is most essential for a relationship with wine, and what’s most refreshing to read, is an approach free of anxiety and open to love.”
Hugh Johnson
“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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061802522
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/16/2012
  • Pages: 278
  • Sales rank: 707,628
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Asimov is the chief wine critic of the New York Times, where his weekly column appears in the Dining section. He is married to Deborah Hofmann, has two sons, Jack and Peter, and lives in Manhattan.

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Table of Contents

Wine Anxiety 1

Twenty-First-Century Connoisseur 14

The Blind Leading 30

The Ambiguity of Wine 41

Discovery 50

The Tyranny of the Tasting Note 80

Flirtation 97

New York Bound 109

Embrace 116

Seeking Higher Learning 136

The Arc of Discovery 148

Drinking by Numbers 164

Passion Rewarded 174

The Importance of Being Humble 187

The Home Wine School 201

An Expression of Culture 218

The Greatest Time to Love Wine 247

Acknowledgments 261

Index 265

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