Episode 72: The Wine Times They Are a-Changin’: A Chat With Eric Asimov

Chief Wine Critic for the New York Times Eric Asimov joins the Wine Two Five ladies this week. He is the author of “How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto,” and talks to us about just that – his love for wine, what’s changed over the last 15 years, and finding great wines to enjoy. He shares his philosophy on wine service, or as Val says, preaches the gospel on why you should show your good somms some love. Steph’s hangin’ in the Springs for this one, and both gals are behind the same mic for a change. Uh oh. Click, sip, giggle, learn, and enjoy!

Drinking: What’s in our glasses this week?

This week Steph is in the  house – literally – as she is sitting Val’s office. For the next three episodes we’ll be side-by-side behind the same mic for a change. You’ve been warned. Just sayin’.IMG_2598

We both were sipping this cool Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan Blanc De Noir 2014, which was something Val was drinking who knows how many episodes back & Steph wanted to try it. This is an extremely unusual wine from Germany (about $17) that is actually made from Cabernet and Pinot Noir. Blanc de Noir as you may remember is a white wine made from black grapes, although this is a lovely, light salmon color. It’s got great intensity of aromas and flavour in terms of red berry fruit, fresh acidity and delicious.

But by now you’re probably saying, “We get it. You’re drinking wine. Again. So can we just get to the show, please?”

Discussion: Interview with Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic, New York Times

We are so excited to bring you an interview with Eric Asimov. If you listen closely you can hear Val go, “Squeeeeeee” away from the mic. She really did that.

Asimov Color-1

Photo courtesy of Eric Asimov

Eric Asimov is the chief wine critic of The New York Times and the author of “How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto,’’ published by William Morrow, and “Wine With Food: Pairing Notes and Recipes From The New York Times,’’ written with recipes by Florence Fabricant and published by Rizzoli. His weekly column appears in the Food section of The Times. Naturally, he is on Twitter, too, @EricAsimov. A collection of his columns is included in “The New York Times Book of Wine,’’ published in 2012 by Sterling Epicure. Before he started writing full-time about wine in 2004, Asimov wrote primarily about restaurants and food. He created the $25 and Under restaurant reviews in 1992 and wrote them through 2004. He is a co-author of five editions of The New York Times Guide to Restaurants, and published four editions of “$25 and Under: A Guide to the Best Inexpensive Restaurants in New York.’’ In 2013 he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. Asimov is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and did graduate work in American Civilization at the University of Texas at Austin. He is married to Deborah Hofmann, has two children, Jack and Peter, and lives in Manhattan. (Bio courtesy of Eric Asimov)

It is interesting that Eric’s first writing gig was as a beer reviewer … in high school. We asked him to tell us more about that because that’s something none of our guidance counselors ever hinted at as a possible option. Of course we have to remember when Eric and his friends were providing the beer review service it was the 1970s. The drinking age has changed from 18 to 21 since then, as have so many other things when it comes to alcohol and its enjoyment.

What else has changed? When talking about wine it’s important to note that the choices available to consumers have also expanded. Even in the last decade and a half since Eric started writing about wine there has been such an influx of wines from regions many people had yet to discover – yet, there had been wine making going on there for centuries. Wines from places like the Jura, Sicily, Slovenia, Croatia and so many others have given wine overs the opportunity to truly explore what the world of wine has to offer in terms of styles, price points and even grapes. There are still grapes out there that even Steph and Val are continually stumbling (not literally, we know what you’re thinking) across that we’ve never heard of! (Hence, the #W25Challenge, right, listeners?)

Eric also gave us his thoughts on hospitality when it comes to wine, particularly with respect to tipping on bottle service, marked up prices, and selection – or as we like to say, preached the gospel of stemware, selection, and service. Naturally, when one lives in a virtual mecca of fabulous dining venues (and has written several books about such) there are more options and experiences from which to draw. He also offered some insightful tips on how to find and build a relationship with a trusted merchant who can truly help you find new wines to enjoy. It is so helpful to be able to learn from them without drinking from the proverbial fire hose or force fed a lecture about a region, grape or style. Or you could read Eric’s column in the New York Times. Or check out his book, “How to Love Wine.

Of course we can’t spill the beans on his funny wine stories or the invaluable advice for writers. Nor can we adequately express his shared tidbits regarding what he learned from being the only man in a sea of women at a recent Women of the Vine conference. This had us laughing pretty hard and we were still on our first second glass of wine. You’ll have to listen to the entire interview to fully appreciate his charm and wit, as well as the context of the conversation. We truly hope you enjoy the interview and appreciate this time Eric took our of his day to spend with the Wine Two Five ladies as much as we did.

Factoid: What these things mean when you hear them:

BTG program = By the Glass program in restaurants

On-Premise = Location where the alcohol beverage is consumed – i.e. restaurant, bar, drinking establishment

Off-Premise = Retail location where the alcohol is purchased and leaves the retailer  for later consumption – i.e. liquor store, wine shop, grocery store

DTC = Direct to Consumer (i.e. from the winery, which is still not allowed in some states!)

Wrapping it up and contact info:

Connect with Val on Twitter @WineGalUnboxed and on the Vino With Val FB page, and on instagram as Vino with Val.

You can find Steph on Twitter @Albarellosoap and on the AlbarelloSoap FB page, and check out the videos on the Albarello YouTube channel!

As for Eric, his email is at the bottom of his articles in the New York Times asimov@nytimes.com, and he’s on twitter as @EricAsimov. We also stalk him on instagram.

Please feel free to stalk us (you know what we mean) on our  FB page, Twitter, Pinterest & YouTube, Google +. Also, if you want to build your collection of wine books or accessories – like GoVino – please check out the online store also located on our website!

We hope that you’ll share Wine Two Five with your friends and online community, and we certainly appreciate all your involvement and feedback. Leave us a burning wine question or comment on speakpipe and while you’re at it, go out to iTunes and show us some love there in the form of a glowing iTunes review so other wine lovers can discover our fun W25 community.

One more thing… Don’t forget to use the #W25Challenge when you are trying new wines and drinks. Until next week …. Cheers!