How To Love Wine, by Eric Asimov

How To Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto
Eric Asimov
ISBN: 9780061802522

Using his years of experience as chief wine critic for the New York Times, Eric Asimov has written this informal guide to enjoying wine.  Asimov would be the first to tell you that while his position as “chief” critic affords him a certain amount of power and respect in his chosen profession, he doesn’t set much store by it.  “Knowing something about wine,” he writes, “ought to signify nothing beyond the fact that you can be helpful with a wine list.”

Asimov relishes debunking the myths surrounding the exclusivity and elitism of the wine-loving world.  Using personal anecdotes, he takes the reader through a run-down of the most common misconceptions about wine-tasting, and demystifies the concept of the “wine connoisseur.”  He is careful not to take all of the mystery out of the art, however, making a particular point that wallowing too much in the simple enjoyment of wine without learning its intricacies can rob the drinker of a level of appreciation that can only come with informed understanding.

Asimov is a huge proponent of personal taste, and a few memorable expletives in one chapter lead to the recommendation that a wine drinker shouldn’t listen to the opinions of the masses, or the opinions of the critics or the experts: they should just try the wines for themselves.

To that end, How To Love Wine mixes the personal with the informative, and introduces the basics for understanding and appreciating wine without the confusing trappings.  Bizarre terminology and wine-related phrases like “tasting notes,” “tannens,” or “barriques,” will make sense come book end – but the main point here is a comfortable overview, not a mastery of the entire art.

Anyone with an interest in taking their first foray into the world of wine appreciation will find basic knowledge and a healthy dose of perspective within the pages of this book.  It’s a welcoming introduction for the curious.

To love wine, Asimov writes, “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.”