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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 examine 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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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 examine 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.

30 review for How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Kiernan

    An unexpected pleasure -- like buying a $10 bottle of wine that when you open it tastes like a $30 bottle. This book was a gift or I wouldn't have opened it. I love wine but hate wine snobs, which I assumed the NYTimes wine critic assuredly would be. I was wrong. Asimov is competely approachable and humble, he uses memoir sporadically and to great effect, and if anything, this book is anti-connaisseur (a word I suddenly cant remember how to spell). Wine tasting notes, ratings by critics, snobbery, An unexpected pleasure -- like buying a $10 bottle of wine that when you open it tastes like a $30 bottle. This book was a gift or I wouldn't have opened it. I love wine but hate wine snobs, which I assumed the NYTimes wine critic assuredly would be. I was wrong. Asimov is competely approachable and humble, he uses memoir sporadically and to great effect, and if anything, this book is anti-connaisseur (a word I suddenly cant remember how to spell). Wine tasting notes, ratings by critics, snobbery, these are all impediments to the enjoyment of wine, Asimov argues. Better is a little educated experimentation, reverence for small vineyards and old winemakers, and praise for the local wine merchant whose passion informs his advice to customers more than his interest in making a pricey sale. Often when reading this book, I thought wine served as a metaphor: sometimes for good food, sometimes good music, sometimes good books, sometimes good friends. Ultimately Asimov says the best wine is one that makes a meal -- or occasion -- special. It enhances the moment not because of alcohol, but because it is a finely crafted, rich, delicious addition to the spirit. His story about buying a bottle for his parents' 30th wedding anniversary, a wine made the year they married, and how it enhanced the food and the candlelight and the mood, this is an argument for the sensuality of wine, which matters infinitely more that how many points it scored on a critic's 100-point scale. A quick read, worth the time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I've decided I know too little about wine and so I'm on a home study program--as it turns out, the kind that Asimov advocates in this book. I thought I would start with a philosophy before I delve into the detailed, technical books I have lined up. I wish a little that I'd skipped this philosophy altogether. I am unabashedly a fan of memoir, and the best parts of this book for me were Asimov's recollections of his past. I like personal narrative. There wasn't even anything particularly important I've decided I know too little about wine and so I'm on a home study program--as it turns out, the kind that Asimov advocates in this book. I thought I would start with a philosophy before I delve into the detailed, technical books I have lined up. I wish a little that I'd skipped this philosophy altogether. I am unabashedly a fan of memoir, and the best parts of this book for me were Asimov's recollections of his past. I like personal narrative. There wasn't even anything particularly important or interesting or critical here, but the story flowed easily for me. Likewise, I enjoyed the three-paragraph-long profiles of some wine producers. The manifesto, though, was repetitive beyond the point of exhaustion. I don't disagree with his point about mass-produced [anything consumable] compared to products made by independent producers, but I also didn't need to hear it seven times. The core lessons--drink wine because it makes you happy, drink wine that you like, keep drinking to figure out what wine you like--are fine and, really, not rocket science. The references to major labels and obscure styles were esoteric and unhelpful. I'm really not sure what audience this book is meant to serve.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Asimov may be the chief wine critic for the New York Times, but he’s keen to emphasize that he’s no wine snob. After decades of drinking it, he knows what he appreciates and prefers small-batch to mass market wine, but he’d rather that people find what they enjoy rather than chase after the expensive bottles they feel they should like. He finds tasting notes and scores meaningless and is more interested in getting people into wine simply for the love of it – not as a status symbol or a way of sh Asimov may be the chief wine critic for the New York Times, but he’s keen to emphasize that he’s no wine snob. After decades of drinking it, he knows what he appreciates and prefers small-batch to mass market wine, but he’d rather that people find what they enjoy rather than chase after the expensive bottles they feel they should like. He finds tasting notes and scores meaningless and is more interested in getting people into wine simply for the love of it – not as a status symbol or a way of showing off arcane knowledge. Like Anthony Bourdain (see my review of Kitchen Confidential), Asimov was drawn into foodie culture by one memorable meal in France. He’d had a childhood sweet tooth and was a teen beer drinker, but when he got to grad school in Austin, Texas an $8 bottle of wine from a local Whole Foods was an additional awakening. Following in his father’s footsteps in journalism and moving from Texas to Chicago back home to New York City for newspaper editing jobs, he had occasional epiphanies when he bought a nice bottle of wine for his parents’ anniversary and took a single wine appreciation course. But his route into writing about wine was sideways, through a long-running NYT column about local restaurants. I might have liked a bit more of the ‘memoir’ than the ‘manifesto’ of the subtitle: Asimov makes the same argument about accessibility over and over, yet even his approachable wine attitude was a little over my head. I can’t see myself going to a tasting of 20–25 wines at a time, or ordering a case of 12 wines to sample at home. Not only can I not tell Burgundy from Bordeaux (his favorites), I can’t remember if I’ve ever tried them. I’m more of a Sauvignon Blanc or Chianti gal. Maybe the Wine for Dummies volume I recently picked up from a Little Free Library is more my speed. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    This was a hard book to rate and if I could have, I probably would have given it 3.5 stars. I thought the content was fantastic. I really enjoyed learning about the author's journey to wine and continuing adventures with wine. I also liked his various remarks about wine culture, wine writing, wine critiquing, the expectations of wine, the apprehensions of wine drinkers, and all of his other insights and perspectives about WINE writ large. My only criticism would be the organization of the book. This was a hard book to rate and if I could have, I probably would have given it 3.5 stars. I thought the content was fantastic. I really enjoyed learning about the author's journey to wine and continuing adventures with wine. I also liked his various remarks about wine culture, wine writing, wine critiquing, the expectations of wine, the apprehensions of wine drinkers, and all of his other insights and perspectives about WINE writ large. My only criticism would be the organization of the book. I felt it was somewhat repetitive, with the chapter headings only vaguely reflective of the content. I think that probably stemmed from the fact that the author is a journalist, and so each delineated entry in a chapter was like an article. But not all the "articles" flowed that well together or made a cohesive whole.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    A down-to-earth account arguing for good wine, good food, and why we should approach wine with comfortable openness instead of trepidation or imposter’s syndrome. That said, in terms of interesting content, I’d prefer 3.5 stars as a rating.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vinod Peris

    In the late nineties, before the widespread popularity of the internet and social rating sites like Yelp, we had to rely on the food critic in the local newspaper to help us discover interesting new restaurants. Eric Asimov's $25 and under column in the New York Times fit the bill and was perfect for our just-graduated-from-college budget. So when I was browsing the new books at my local library, I instinctively picked up this book and started thumbing through the pages. I stumbled on the pages w In the late nineties, before the widespread popularity of the internet and social rating sites like Yelp, we had to rely on the food critic in the local newspaper to help us discover interesting new restaurants. Eric Asimov's $25 and under column in the New York Times fit the bill and was perfect for our just-graduated-from-college budget. So when I was browsing the new books at my local library, I instinctively picked up this book and started thumbing through the pages. I stumbled on the pages where he makes fun of the flowery language that serious wine critics use in their "tasting notes". To make his point he compares the tasting notes of three reputable wine critics for the same wine bottle. Not surprisingly they all detect "hints" of different fruits in their notes and it is hard to reconcile how they can all be right. Eric also holds firm with his opinion that the enjoyment of wine has little to do with the ability to detect these nuances. This is precisely how I feel and so felt that it is worth exploring what the New York Times Chief Wine Critic had to say about this. The book is written well and Eric's experience in editing shows in the well crafted prose that is to the point and crisp. Unfortunately, apart from the critique of the value of the "tasting notes", Eric does not have much to offer in terms of content. He tries hard to be balanced in his views and goes out of his way to be nonjudgmental about an individual's taste in wine. However, it comes across as trite and after a while the analogies to fast food restaurants and the like are more likely to elicit a yawn than offer any value. The best part of the book is that it can be read in a couple of hours. Avoid, unless you have an afternoon to kill.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I had the pleasure of watching Eric Asimov be interviewed about much of the experience that went into his writing this book, with chapters that switch between autobiography and his opinions on the wine world and how to overcome 'wine anxiety'. He is a really genuine guy who just loves wine and doesn't want anyone to feel as if he or she doesn't know enough to say "I love wine" too. I appreciate what this book tries (and succeeds) to do - take the pressure off the exploration of wine and bring it I had the pleasure of watching Eric Asimov be interviewed about much of the experience that went into his writing this book, with chapters that switch between autobiography and his opinions on the wine world and how to overcome 'wine anxiety'. He is a really genuine guy who just loves wine and doesn't want anyone to feel as if he or she doesn't know enough to say "I love wine" too. I appreciate what this book tries (and succeeds) to do - take the pressure off the exploration of wine and bring it back to what it's really about: passion, experience, joy. Some parts of the book got repetitive to me. By the last couple of chapters, I felt that a lot of Asimov's advice and opinions had already been said in different words earlier on. Some of the very fine details about regions and wineries also lost me a bit. I really enjoyed the autobiographical portions and wish there had been more of those, and less of the repetition I just mentioned. I can only hope one day Asimov will share more of his experiences as the NY Times Wine Critic in another book, because he seemed to stop sharing after the point at which he was given that position.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Trick

    I really wanted to love this book. When someone is as passionate about a subject as Asimov clearly is, you would like to join them in that enthusiasm. But this book turns out to be tedious, repetitive, and just no fun. Asimov has a clear position on wine: "Ignore ratings, laugh at tasting notes, drink wine and enjoy it! And search out interesting wines". But it is hard to make those precepts last a whole book. But, by repetition, Asimov makes it last at least 2/3 of the book. The remaining 1/3 w I really wanted to love this book. When someone is as passionate about a subject as Asimov clearly is, you would like to join them in that enthusiasm. But this book turns out to be tedious, repetitive, and just no fun. Asimov has a clear position on wine: "Ignore ratings, laugh at tasting notes, drink wine and enjoy it! And search out interesting wines". But it is hard to make those precepts last a whole book. But, by repetition, Asimov makes it last at least 2/3 of the book. The remaining 1/3 was far more interesting: his career, his relationship with wine, his adventures. I think if the book had simply been a memoir of his life in journalism and with wine, with a chapter on his view of enjoying wine, I would have loved the book. As is, I hit the halfway point and was tired of him lecturing me on the same points over and over again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I wavered between two and three stars, but ultimately the combination of its repetitiveness and my disappointment to come out much the wiser about wine convinced me to rate it lower. The "memoir" parts of the book are reasonably interesting, and they are also the better parts, I believe. Despite dust jacket promises, the "manifesto" parts are not particularly revelatory. Mr. Asimov's main points could have made a nice newspaper column, but as a book they are tedious and end up in cul-de-sacs of I wavered between two and three stars, but ultimately the combination of its repetitiveness and my disappointment to come out much the wiser about wine convinced me to rate it lower. The "memoir" parts of the book are reasonably interesting, and they are also the better parts, I believe. Despite dust jacket promises, the "manifesto" parts are not particularly revelatory. Mr. Asimov's main points could have made a nice newspaper column, but as a book they are tedious and end up in cul-de-sacs of name dropping that are no help at all to those uninitiated into the wine lovers' club. Some of his points are reassuring to those drooling idiots of us who know nothing about wine except that there is red and white and it is nice to have a glass sometimes. For instance, he strongly believes that wine should be enjoyed, not studied, and specifically enjoyed with good food and good friends. No objections from me! He also makes the case that no wine tasting class or connoisseur's magazine is really helpful in learning to love wine. You just need to try lots of different things and take notes about what you enjoy. Well, I can swallow that, but one starts to get antsy about the price tag involved in "how to love wine." If you're having your best neighborhood wine shop put together a sampler of a dozen bottles with a price cap of $250 to get you started, this cuts out a lot of would-be wine lovers. Of course, Asimov is fine with you enjoying whatever makes you happy, even if it's cheap wine, but who needs a whole book to tell you that you should enjoy whatever wine makes you happy? It's rather like the cheat of Dorothy finding out that she traveled all the way to the Emerald City only to find out that she had the power to take herself home all along. In summary: This is not the best book for you if . . . . . . you like wine but wish to find the depths in it that others do . . . you want down-to-earth, middle-class perspective on how to enjoy wine more fully . . . you don't like reading long lists of foreign names . . . you get annoyed by repetitive writing (particularly when it basically says "this is the kind of thing that must be experienced because words cannot communicate it") You might enjoy it if . . . . . . you are moderately wealthy and looking for a new hobby . . . you already buy expensive wines regularly but can't tell good from bad . . . you love pages worth of foreign wine names and producers . . . you've read tons of wine magazines and wondered whether tasting notes are really the be-all and end-all In other words, despite seeming to be a book for a wide audience, it is really for a much narrower slice of society. The majority of us would be much better off watching the delightful John Cleese DVD "Wine for the Confused."

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    As the subtitle says, it is both a memoir and a manifesto. The memoir part is fairly straightforward, but the manifesto is a bit harder to pin down. It is easier to say what Asimov is against than in what he espouses. Generally, he is against scores, tasting notes, and blind tastings - more Hugh Johnson than Robert Parker Jr. In this, I agree. Critics tend to taste-and-spit a vast number of wines at once, which gives little idea of how a wine evolves through drinking a bottle, or the context of As the subtitle says, it is both a memoir and a manifesto. The memoir part is fairly straightforward, but the manifesto is a bit harder to pin down. It is easier to say what Asimov is against than in what he espouses. Generally, he is against scores, tasting notes, and blind tastings - more Hugh Johnson than Robert Parker Jr. In this, I agree. Critics tend to taste-and-spit a vast number of wines at once, which gives little idea of how a wine evolves through drinking a bottle, or the context of where and with whom you drink it. Scores also put one at the mercy of the particular reviewer's predilections, "Parkerization" (OK, if your taste matches a particular critic's), which also leads to producers vying to match that style, rather than express their own, on a global scale. Wine is, after all, a business as well as a craft. Wine notes are another goofy thing. As Asimov shows, three different critics derived three different lists of characteristics from the same wine, and who the hell knows what some of the supposed items they pull from the bouquet and taste are? Fig paste? Maduro tobacco?? Asimov champions the small, independent producer, Old World or New, but who actually produces good stuff (there is a lot of bad wine out there). And that one should enjoy wine as one does, not to over-intellectualize it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mikhail Lutchman

    I enjoyed this little peek into the world of wine. The author's passion really shines through and is refreshing for the average wine lover. His writing style is simple, honest and down to earth. I'd love to share a bottle with him, if I would be so lucky. The book does get a bit repetitive and abtruse at points but I really appreciate the small stories behind each grape and bottle and vintage. I wish there might have been more on his journey as he first fell in love with wine and carried it thro I enjoyed this little peek into the world of wine. The author's passion really shines through and is refreshing for the average wine lover. His writing style is simple, honest and down to earth. I'd love to share a bottle with him, if I would be so lucky. The book does get a bit repetitive and abtruse at points but I really appreciate the small stories behind each grape and bottle and vintage. I wish there might have been more on his journey as he first fell in love with wine and carried it through his career. I'm not sure if it deserves as much as 4 stars but the book had me so excited to try new wines and truly appreciate their story, and you can't put a rating on that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I really wanted to like this one - a memoir and manifesto on wine, what else could you want? But it was light on the memoir piece and repetitive on the wine part. Asimov's position on wine is that it shouldn't be an anxiety-inducing thing. Wine is pleasurable and the wine critics who focus on tasting notes, flowery descriptive language, and emphasis on rare (and expensive) vintages only serves to push the accessibility of wine farther away from the general consumer. Over and over and over again. I really wanted to like this one - a memoir and manifesto on wine, what else could you want? But it was light on the memoir piece and repetitive on the wine part. Asimov's position on wine is that it shouldn't be an anxiety-inducing thing. Wine is pleasurable and the wine critics who focus on tasting notes, flowery descriptive language, and emphasis on rare (and expensive) vintages only serves to push the accessibility of wine farther away from the general consumer. Over and over and over again. He did have some interesting nuggets about boutique wineries and such that was interesting, but overall this book didn't hold my interest very well.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura R. Charron

    How to Love A Wine Writer and His Book Find a writer that meets your expectations. I found the author. He works for the New York Times and that led me to believe I would find an imminently readable book. I did. I believed he would be knowledgeable on his subject and he was and is. Find an author that gives you hope. I like wine and want to learn more about it. I was afraid age would trip me up if nothing else. I was afraid of my own ignorance. Through reading the book I was validated in beginning How to Love A Wine Writer and His Book Find a writer that meets your expectations. I found the author. He works for the New York Times and that led me to believe I would find an imminently readable book. I did. I believed he would be knowledgeable on his subject and he was and is. Find an author that gives you hope. I like wine and want to learn more about it. I was afraid age would trip me up if nothing else. I was afraid of my own ignorance. Through reading the book I was validated in beginning my wine journey at 61 and for my own reasons. I heartily recommend this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Corneil

    A Love Story of wine. A non-judgements reflection on the love/biography of the author’s relationship with wine. Growth of his own life and it’s intertwining with wine. Not a tale of what one should or should not enjoy. Nor is this a typical discussion of the business of wine and its increasing industrialization. This is the best time to enjoy wine.:the conclusion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    There is definitely some rambling chapters and repetition of his mantras here but also some rather deep insights into how to really think about how to explore wine personally by forgetting about all the ratings and florid tasting notes. Good ideas on exploring new wines.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Eric writes a great book that both goes into how he became the chief wine critic for NYTs as well as discusses how to make you more comfortable exploring wines and developing your own tastes in an uncondecending manner.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    I have always enjoyed Asimov's columns in the Times, and this book made me like him even more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Interesting and fun. Read definitely agreed with his attitude toward wine.....tasteful fun.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter Wassam

    Usually his writing is more engaging than this. Feels defensive when there's no need to be. Would be better served almost strictly as a memoir.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Ryan

    A very level headed, just the facts POV on wine. Excellent

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gabriele

    Even if you enjoy drinking wine, though, there's a feeling of uncertainty, a compulsive need to clarify that you're not really a "wine person". A "wine person" can stick their nose into a glass and identify smells like pepper and starfruit, or take a sip and taste dried leather or mushroom. Eric Asimov's How To Love Wine seeks to push back against that perception. As the Chief Wine Critic of the New York Times, Asimov uses his book to try to de-mystify and remove barriers to the enjoyment of win Even if you enjoy drinking wine, though, there's a feeling of uncertainty, a compulsive need to clarify that you're not really a "wine person". A "wine person" can stick their nose into a glass and identify smells like pepper and starfruit, or take a sip and taste dried leather or mushroom. Eric Asimov's How To Love Wine seeks to push back against that perception. As the Chief Wine Critic of the New York Times, Asimov uses his book to try to de-mystify and remove barriers to the enjoyment of wine by advocating a simple, straightforward message: the best way to enjoy wine is with good food and good friends. In fact, this message is so simple and straightforward that the book ultimately feels padded. Even as he takes on various aspects of the wine-industrial complex, like tasting notes that seem to pride themselves on evoking obscure flavors usually based on just a few sips of the wine in question, often influenced by the tasting of several other wines at the same time, he returns again and again to his central thesis: the way to love wine is to drink it with people you love while sharing a meal. There are certain basic characteristics like acidity and tannins that, if you're willing to experiment and try a bunch of varieties, you'll eventually be able to pick up on, and the only ones that matter are the ones you discover for yourself actually impact your enjoyment of the wine in question. People often feel like they "have to" like wines with high scores from magazines and insiders, that if that wine doesn't work for them that they're the ones who are wrong, but not everyone likes the same flavors. Feeling this kind of pressure, to like the types of wines that are in fashion at any given moment, to like highly-rated wines, is one of the reasons people are afraid to really embrace wine. There's a reason that Asimov has spent much of his career writing for one of the foremost newspapers in the country: he's a talented writer. That the book doesn't feel painfully repetitive (though the padding is impossible to miss) is a testament to his skills. He really loves the way drinking wine feels, and his enthusiasm about trying to make it easier for everyone to have that same kind of enjoyment is contagious. I've mostly become a craft beer drinker these days, but by the time I ended this book I found myself wanting to pop open a bottle of red and make some pasta and hang out eating and drinking with my husband...which was exactly the intention of the book. If you're curious about wine but have found yourself frightened off by snooty wine culture, this is a solid book to read. If you're not really that into it, though, it's skippable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    This book is perfect for the person who's just started drinking wine or wants to start drinking wine more seriously. It is for the new-comers who want to be told the water's fine before they make the jump. It is for the person who feels hopelessly lost in the wine world. He is a warm and welcoming ambassador to the wine world and he clearly hopes everyone has the chance to at least visit and then perhaps stay for another drink or two. The chapter "The Home Wine School" is a lovely chapter that g This book is perfect for the person who's just started drinking wine or wants to start drinking wine more seriously. It is for the new-comers who want to be told the water's fine before they make the jump. It is for the person who feels hopelessly lost in the wine world. He is a warm and welcoming ambassador to the wine world and he clearly hopes everyone has the chance to at least visit and then perhaps stay for another drink or two. The chapter "The Home Wine School" is a lovely chapter that gives practical advice on how to make the wine experience your own. Eric Asimov is an endearing writer. Humble, casual, passionate, and very romantic. His path to a life of drinking and writing about wine is very much his own. There is life and gratitude in his voice when he writes of the memorable wines and conversations with people. When reading these chapters, it's very easy to smile the way one does upon seeing a child discover something small but awesome. One thing about this book that bothered me was that Asimov repeatedly tells the readers how he particularly enjoys to drink his wine, that wine scores and tasting notes are work against the inherent pleasure in drinking wine, but lastly (this is the one that drove me nuts) that everyone can have their own opinion. He was, in a nutshell, too apologetic for my tastes. The repetition of the above was so finely threaded throughout the book that it wasn't simply a matter of skipping a few pages and not bothering to read what I don't care to read. The motif, I suppose. I would rather that he state succinctly how his views differ from others' and then go a little deeper. More concise. Maybe a little more straightforward. This book could have been tighter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    As many other people have noted, there is nothing new in this book. While I am sure some readers are giddy with delight with Asimov's cute examples regarding even the professional tasters inability to agree on what a wine smells like, but in all seriousness, he could have picked some other wines where you will get a near consensus as to what the wine in your glass smells like. But that wouldn't be nearly as interesting, would it? Asimov also refers to Riesling Kabinett wines as being "slightly swe As many other people have noted, there is nothing new in this book. While I am sure some readers are giddy with delight with Asimov's cute examples regarding even the professional tasters inability to agree on what a wine smells like, but in all seriousness, he could have picked some other wines where you will get a near consensus as to what the wine in your glass smells like. But that wouldn't be nearly as interesting, would it? Asimov also refers to Riesling Kabinett wines as being "slightly sweet" (pg 160, kindle). I think this is quite misleading especially the type of readers he seems to be targeting as Kabinett wines are often completely dry and are probably more known for being dry than sweet (off-dry is probably better). He also suggests that "few people, even with years of experience" would be able to tell "the difference between a Pomerol and a Pommard." (pg 216, kindle). If you have years of experience and still cant tell the difference between these two wines, then you are either insane or have chosen the wrong profession/hobby. These are two VERY VERY different wines, completely different in style.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kasey Tritch

    Two and half stars would be a better rating. I support Asimov's ideas: 1) that wine tastings are generally a ridiculous way to really enjoy wine, and 2) that wine ratings tell one very little about wine. Asimov reminds us that wine really should be enjoyed with food and friends. But, this book is equal parts biography as it is wine lessons not very well blended. Asimov obviously has a passion for enjoying wine that seaps through his writing. He recalls a memorable experience enjoying White Zinfa Two and half stars would be a better rating. I support Asimov's ideas: 1) that wine tastings are generally a ridiculous way to really enjoy wine, and 2) that wine ratings tell one very little about wine. Asimov reminds us that wine really should be enjoyed with food and friends. But, this book is equal parts biography as it is wine lessons not very well blended. Asimov obviously has a passion for enjoying wine that seaps through his writing. He recalls a memorable experience enjoying White Zinfandel and pasta with friends; notably one without pretention. Unfortunately, these moments are interrupted by his repetitive rants against the way in which most consumers currently buy bottles of wine and lists of favorite producers. I can't wait to read one of Asimov's reviews of bottles. And hope that this book is only a beginning for him as a challenge to the way we think and talk about wine.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maron

    I really wanted to rate this book more stars, but it just didn't give me a whole lot. I enjoyed Asimov's writing style - it was very personal and approachable, which is exactly how he presents the world of wine throughout the book. There was no preaching or layers of information to read through, instead the main story line is about his own path of becoming a wine lover, which I enjoyed. What I didn't like is that it was drawn out over many chapters and there were observations of the wine industr I really wanted to rate this book more stars, but it just didn't give me a whole lot. I enjoyed Asimov's writing style - it was very personal and approachable, which is exactly how he presents the world of wine throughout the book. There was no preaching or layers of information to read through, instead the main story line is about his own path of becoming a wine lover, which I enjoyed. What I didn't like is that it was drawn out over many chapters and there were observations of the wine industry, people, regions sprinkled throughout. That part was okay at first, but really started to drag and feel repetitive about half way through. I did appreciate his view on non-mass produced and biodynamic wines - it just makes sense and aligns with my philosophy. One key take-away that I am going to try is the home schooling approach. It makes sense and it will be fun. I am picking up my case of wines to explore next week :)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Schenkenberg

    Really like this passage: To assert that tasting notes amount to an "intellectual dissection" of a wine is to ignore the fact that the more specific the description of flavors and aromas, the less one is actually saying about a wine and what it has to offer. People drink wine for many reasons. It makes them happy, it cheers them up, it is delicious, it makes meals better, it is intoxicating, it enhances friendships, it serves a spiritual purpose, and that is only the beginning. Wine can be trans Really like this passage: To assert that tasting notes amount to an "intellectual dissection" of a wine is to ignore the fact that the more specific the description of flavors and aromas, the less one is actually saying about a wine and what it has to offer. People drink wine for many reasons. It makes them happy, it cheers them up, it is delicious, it makes meals better, it is intoxicating, it enhances friendships, it serves a spiritual purpose, and that is only the beginning. Wine can be transporting. It can, in one glass, embody culture, science, economics, personality, history, and much more. Fine wines stimulate conversation. We may be moved to debate what makes it so fine. But very rarely, if ever, does a true intellectual dissection of wine consist of sticking one's beak into a glass and reciting the components of a cornucopia.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ozlem Ertekin

    Eric Asimov is one of the most respectable wine writers in my opinion. How he sees wine is different than others. This book is kind of his autobiography, actually almost half of it that you start wondering if he is ever going to write something about wine. I like biographies so it was ok for me, from his discovery of the wine at young ages to the New York and NYT newspaper scene was interesting while might be boring for some others. And then you start getting insight on ‘how to love wine’, menti Eric Asimov is one of the most respectable wine writers in my opinion. How he sees wine is different than others. This book is kind of his autobiography, actually almost half of it that you start wondering if he is ever going to write something about wine. I like biographies so it was ok for me, from his discovery of the wine at young ages to the New York and NYT newspaper scene was interesting while might be boring for some others. And then you start getting insight on ‘how to love wine’, mentions about WSET education that evaluates wine in 5 scale system, or wine critics that are assessing the wine 1-100 or 1-20 rating scale. Wine is more than this, history, culture, terroir, people making the wine, their stories, personalities define a wine’s character. You will find his approach to wine and many winemakers and stories here.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marty

    I've long been a fan of Azimov's New York Times columns and find him a fascinating thinker on wine. This book manages to be neither polemic or dogmatic--achieving a balanced approach to wine. Azimov doesn't set out to make wine "more approachable" as so many well-meaning books do, but really to get wine onto the American table without pretense. While he honestly doesn't like factory-produced wines (just like he doesn't like factory-produced cheeseburgers), he's not out to force people to agree w I've long been a fan of Azimov's New York Times columns and find him a fascinating thinker on wine. This book manages to be neither polemic or dogmatic--achieving a balanced approach to wine. Azimov doesn't set out to make wine "more approachable" as so many well-meaning books do, but really to get wine onto the American table without pretense. While he honestly doesn't like factory-produced wines (just like he doesn't like factory-produced cheeseburgers), he's not out to force people to agree with his tastes. I was impressed how Azimov came across simple, thoughtful, let complex - sometimes not taking sides on a particular issue, and instead exposing its complexity. Thanks, Eric for this great book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janie

    Many wine-lovers wonder, as they are poured wine to taste from the bottle they have just ordered, what exactly they are supposed to do. “Wine is one of the coolest things in the world. To love it is a great joy. Why do we make it so hard?” asks Asimov, chief wine critic of the New York Times, as he muses on the anxieties that befall today’s wine lovers who just want to enjoy a pleasant drink. Not only does he share his takes on the changes in the industry, scoring, and tasting, he also highlight Many wine-lovers wonder, as they are poured wine to taste from the bottle they have just ordered, what exactly they are supposed to do. “Wine is one of the coolest things in the world. To love it is a great joy. Why do we make it so hard?” asks Asimov, chief wine critic of the New York Times, as he muses on the anxieties that befall today’s wine lovers who just want to enjoy a pleasant drink. Not only does he share his takes on the changes in the industry, scoring, and tasting, he also highlights key moments that led to his love of the grape, which steered him to his enviable position. VERDICT Well written and interesting; a good choice for beginning wine enthusiasts.—Jane Hebert, Glenside P.L. Dist., Glendale Heights, IL

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marie-Therese

    Review as tasting note Virtually colourless. Bitter aromas reminiscent of sour grapes and dirty laundry. Thin, flat and somewhat oxidized with a short, dilute finish. Drink by: yesterday. (More seriously: there's just nothing new, interesting or meaningful here.Both Asimov's complaints and his enthusiasms are very old news in the wine world and I doubt there's a previously published book out there that hasn't covered them already, likely with more flair and greater thoroughness. I generally enjoy Review as tasting note Virtually colourless. Bitter aromas reminiscent of sour grapes and dirty laundry. Thin, flat and somewhat oxidized with a short, dilute finish. Drink by: yesterday. (More seriously: there's just nothing new, interesting or meaningful here.Both Asimov's complaints and his enthusiasms are very old news in the wine world and I doubt there's a previously published book out there that hasn't covered them already, likely with more flair and greater thoroughness. I generally enjoy Asimov's work at the New York Times but this book is a brief magazine article padded into a very thin, exceptionally dull vanity volume. There's little reason to read this much less to buy it. Spend the cash on a wine you like instead.)

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