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I imagine that at this point you're probably recalling that old art joke. Fortunately, Eric Asimov, wine writer for the New York Times, just might back me up. In his memoir, How to Love Wine, Asimov reassures us that, when it comes to wine, the most important thing is personal taste.
Many people have come to believe that they cannot enjoy wine unless they are already knowledgeable, and so deny themselves the pleasurable experiences that would allow them to gain confidence. Instead of a joy, for many people wine has become a burden. (p. 3).How to Love Wine is not a buying guide, nor does it contain a checklist of the top ten wines to have in your cellar. Instead, Eric Asimov talks about how he went from beer-drinking teen to chief wine critic for the New York Times. (By the way, he is quick to point out that not only is he the chief wine critic but he's the only wine critic and has no staff.)
In this enjoyable and personal story, Asimov shares his opinion on a variety of wine-related topics, such as wine regions, wine vocabulary, blind tastings, growers, writers, and reviewers. His style is casual, easy to read, and never snooty.
In a nutshell, Asimov asserts that learning to love wine is a matter of experience and individual preferences. He suggests that we try a variety of wines, write down which ones we like and why, and go forth and try some more. If you're lucky enough not to live in my state of Pennsylvania, Asimov recommends another terrific avenue. Find a good wine store where the staff is respectful and knowledgeable. Ask them to make up a mixed case within your budget, and go home and drink. Create, as Asimov calls it, your own home wine school.
Of course, Asimov has plenty of other advice and is free with his opinions about the current wine culture. He also talks about his education, his travels, and his early days as a journalist. Two of my favorite parts of the memoir were his thoughts about wine tastings and ratings and his discussion of what he calls the "arc of discovery" along the path to wine appreciation.
If you're like most people, you've been intimidated by wine at least at some point. Thank goodness for chief wine critic Eric Asimov. In How to Love Wine, he reminds us that
no special physical characteristics or equipment are required to love wine. . . . You simply require an open mind, a sense of curiosity, and an awareness that learning about wine is an act of volition, not of obligation. The aim is pleasure and joy, not status, not connoisseurship, and certainly not wealth. (p. 11)Pick up a bottle--red or white, sweet or dry--pour a glass, and settle in with Asimov's "memoir and manifesto." You'll quickly become a fan of Asimov's while gaining a newfound wine confidence.
The truth is that wine can be one of the simplest pleasures available to anybody: Pour beverage into glass, drink, enjoy. That's 90 percent of it right there! Anybody can do that, right? (p. 127)
Buy How to Love Wine at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Published by HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2012
Source: Review (see review policy)
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