Last night found me at Centovini where I was lucky enough to dine with one of my favorite wine writers, Lawrence Osborne, whose excellent 2004 book on wine and taste, The Accidental Connoisseur, offers what is arguably the best explanation of why international tastes for wine are shifting toward the American “modern” palate (which seems to favor extracted, high-alcohol content, “jammy,” fruit-driven wines).
We were also joined by his friend, the truly lovely Elizabeth Spiers, who charmed the table with anecdotes from her career as a gossip-blogger-writer-fashionista. She also offered insight into the career of her friend and colleague Perez Hilton, who had been featured in last week’s NY Times Style Section.
I can’t reveal what we tasted because Lawrence is writing a piece on the flight we shared for one of his regular columns.
While I often attend tastings with noted wine writers, occasionally I get to taste as both professional and fan: I read Lawrence’ book when it came out and was immediately impressed by his quasi-Gramscian approach to the globalization of wine and the — to borrow a Gramscian phrase — cultural hegemony of the modern American palate for wine.*
I was pleased to discover that Lawrence shared an experience as graduate students in Italian (he at Harvard) and that we both enjoy the filmography of Antonioni, to whom we raised a merry glass. Reflecting on the obituary in the NY Times of that morning, we both noted that critics and scholars often forget the abundant humor in Antonioni’s films.
… a truly memorable evening in this city that I’ve come to love.
*N.B.: While I don’t endorse Wikipedia (and often see it as a promulgator of factoids, urban legends, and in some cases outright falsehoods), I liked the entry on Gramsci.