A brush with celebrity: taste with acclaimed actor Edoardo Ballerini and me as we discuss “the Devil’s wine,” Friday, December 17 (virtual event).

Above: acclaimed actor Edoardo Ballerini, “the voice of G-d,” as the New York Times recently called him (image via edoardoballerini.com).

You may remember him from shows like “The Sopranos” or “Law and Order.” You may have seen him in now cult films like “Dinner Rush” (where he played a celebrity chef and Sandra Bernhard played a food critic).

Edo (as we all affectionately call him) and I became good friends in Los Angeles thanks to his father, my dissertation advisor and friend Luigi Ballerini, the celebrated Italian poet and scholar.

But it wasn’t until fate brought me to Park Slope, Brooklyn in the late 1990s that we formed a deeper bond.

He had just been cast to play alongside Armand Assante in “Looking for an Echo” as an up-and-coming singer-songwriter. We were already hanging out in the city when he asked me if he could join my music crew’s almost nightly jam sessions at my apartment: he wanted to develop his guitar playing and singing for the role. “Tall boys and Marlboros” were the bywords of those days and man, what a time it was to be in Brooklyn playing music! So many great memories and stories from those days!

But when we connect next Friday evening for a Zoom call and wine tasting, Edo and I won’t be rehashing the good old days when people like us could still afford to live in Park Slope.

Instead, we’ll be discussing “the Devil’s Wine” — poetry.

He’ll be reading a selection of wine-hued poems and I’ll be tracing wine’s arc in Western culture as a source of mystery, wonder, and forbidden knowledge.

Oh and here’s the thing… In recent years, Edo has become the number-one narrator of audiobooks in the world today. I’m not shitting you! Check it out in the New York Times and the Guardian.

It’s always a sinfully delicious treat to hear him read. As the Times called him, he’s the “Vladimir Horowitz of his cohort.”

The virtual event is to be held next Friday, starting at 7:30 EST. It’s not a cheap date but it’s going to be a good one. And all the proceeds — Edo and I are both doing it pro bono — go to charity, in this case Animal Zone International.

Click here to register.

And what will we be tasting, you ask? Good question! Next week, I’ll be recommending wines, based on the location of the attendees, for all of our guests to open, although wine is not required.

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