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How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  358 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by William Morrow
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Stephen Kiernan
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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,
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012, memoir, non-fiction
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
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-and-drink
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.
Vinod Peris
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was ok

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
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any wine lover!
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 ...more
Michael Trick
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wine
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 ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-issues
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 ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mikhail Lutchman
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
I have always enjoyed Asimov's columns in the Times, and this book made me like him even more.
Thomas Ryan
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very level headed, just the facts POV on wine. Excellent
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Kasey Tritch
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Stephen Schenkenberg
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, adult, wine
I appreciated Asimov's approach on enjoying and learning to love wine. Basically he says embrace wine's ambiguity and just explore. Eventually you will learn by discovering what you like. Wine is best explored with food, friends and occasions. He also disdains the overblown tasting notes (hints of tobacco! floral accents! spicy undertones! serve with grilled eel!) and the wine-scoring system which can be a handy guide for consumers but also doesn't recognize other wines that can be of equal or b ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting and engaging book about wine. As a person who is new to wine, this book reduced my anxiety about such a complex and seemingly quite sophisticated subject. I enjoyed reading about the author's personal journey with wine, from a teenager having the first taste of wine in Paris to becoming the chief wine critic of the New York Times. His humble yet appreciative view of wine encouraged me to take a relaxed approach with my just budding interest of wine. The book felt a bit ...more
Pam Gary
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I saw How to Love Wine-A Memoir and Manifesto by Eric Asimov, chief wine critic of the New York Times, I thought, well, here we go again, still another wine book.

The good news is: Mr. Asimov is extremely knowledgeable about wine, but he is not a wine snob, at least in the pages of his book. He has produced an inviting read with a conversational approach. He offers practical advice to both the beginner and the more advanced wine drinker. In addition, he openly shares how he evolved into a wi
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I perused this book while sipping an inexpensive merlot. And according to Eric Asimov, that's okay. Asimov's book appeals to both wine experts and novices. The first chapter starts with "Wine Anxiety" and the last chapter ends with "The Greatest Time to Love Wine." The memoir also covers Asimov's career from writer to chief wine critic for The New York Times. Also, much to my delight as a librarian, there is an extensive index included.
Marjorie Elwood
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: locavores
An unusual take on wine-tasting: the author (The New York Times' wine critic) advises us to drink wine we love, with friends and food, and forgo the super-specific and pretentious tasting notes. He peppers the book with anecdotes from his life. One of my favorite passages was when he compared somebody who works at a good local wine store to a reference librarian: they can both find obscure information, both have strong opinions, and both may talk your ear off about a topic they love.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a really engaging book about wine. At times I'm anxious about sharing my thoughts on a wine, but Asimov assured me that I don't need to be - just use common words to say what I'm tasting. I liked the way Asimov interweaves his knowledge of wine with his memoir. The memoir makes him seem more like a friend than a wine authority - very approachable within such a sophisticated topic. Cheers!
Jesse Dang
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Asimov connects with this book

true to the title, the book is equal parts memoir and manifesto. Asimov is one of the best writers on wine out there and getting a glimpse into how he fell into wine was great. his remarks on how to approach wine or understand what drives anxiety in learning about wine are not retreads of other DIY books but thoughtful diatribes that make you think.
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
More of a philosophy about wine than a specific guide to understand it, Asimov gives the reader a different view of what it means to enjoy wine. He points towards wine as an experience, as something meant to be enjoyed but that in many ways we will never truly capture the essence of what makes wine so good and why each person loves what they love. There is permission her to just eat, drink, and enjoy.
Rick Ballard
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A really excellent dissertation on how to approach wine, learn to really enjoy it, and dispense with pretentiousness, cut with a fairly interesting personal memoir from the NYT's wine critic. This book is not a typical wine appreciation course; rather, it's a meta-discourse on wine appreciation itself and a manifesto about how it should all be done. Thoroughly enjoyable; surprisingly enlightening.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is divided in two parts which are interleaved: the memoir part and the manifesto part.

I found the memoir forgettable and wished this book were all manifesto.

That said, Asimov's writing about wine is great. He's passionate and clear, and his advice is sound.

Well written and engaging if you already love wine.
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“Growers and winemakers are more like stewards who understand the potential of a particular piece of earth. Through farming and production they are able to realize that potential, which is sometimes mistaken for self-expression.” 0 likes
“The more he learned, the less he knew, and so he came to understand a fundamental truth of wine: As much as we learn about it, as much as we know, it is at its heart a mystery.” 0 likes
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