@EricAsimov teaches our generation “how to love wine”

best wine book 2012

“Instead of a joy,” writes Eric the Red (Eric Asimov) in his newly released “memoir and manifesto,” How to Love Wine, “for many people wine has become a burden.”

“The United States,” he observes, “has become the largest single consumer of wine on the planet, yet what’s missing in many people’s experience of wine is a simple sense of ease. Instead, choosing a wine becomes an exercise in anxiety. Many people have come to believe that they cannot enjoy wine unless they are already knowledgeable, and so deny themselves the pleasurable experiences that would allow them to gain confidence.”

(His column last week for The New York Times, also addresses this phenomenon and the misunderstood role of the sommelier.)

As I read Eric’s new book over the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about how our generation (he’s my eldest brother’s age) is the first American generation to approach wine in demotic terms.

Like him, I grew up in a Jewish household where wine was considered a luxury (if it was considered at all). He notes his (our) parents were among the first American generation who could afford to travel to Europe. They went made a first trip in 1971: “Perhaps most interesting of all to them, they ate in French restaurants and drank wine.” (Around the same time, my parents went to Russia and drank vodka.)

He talks about drinking “bland and boring” beer and smoking weed in high school and college, not “turn[ing] up my nose at the sort of things that typically found their way to dormitory parties back then.”

And then, in 1982, while a grad student in Austin, Texas, an epiphany is delivered by an $8 bottle of Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba (my epiphany bottle was a literally homegrown Sangiovese in Montalcino in 1989).

The parallels in our lives are uncanny as they are common among our generation. (For our mutual friend Alice Feiring, another one of my favorite wine writers, it was a bottle of Nebbiolo in 1980; the fact that we’re all Slavic Jews and the role that Italian wine has played are also unheimlich.)

As Georgia P played with her toys on the floor and I devoured Eric’s book, I realized that she will grow up in an America that is aware (and self-aware) of its application of wine. And I also thought deeply about how our generation’s “anxiety” in approaching wine is probably what has fueled the enoblogosphere’s explosion, the vitriol that often sullies the discusion of wine, and the joy that so many of us find in the wine blogging community.

I plan to write a proper review of the book for the Houston Press.

In the meantime, I highly recommend it to you.

O, and why is Eric called “Eric the Red” here on my blog, you ask?

He took the name himself inspired by my brush with Dany Le Rouge.

Day 2 of 31 Days of Natural Wine: nothing natural about it

This post is the second installment of Saignée’s 31 Days of Natural Wine. Click the link below for more…

“Natural wine” is something of a misnomer. Wine is, after all, an act of humankind.

It’s true that wine occurs naturally. Aleš Kristančič of Movia once explained to me how when a grape falls from the vine, it is a natural winemaking vessel: the hole at the top of the berry (where the stem has broken away) is a natural valve that allows yeast on the skin to enter the berry and begin turning the sugar into alcohol.

Wine was a gift from the gods (think Bacchus), or a gift of G-d (think Noah), or an accident (think mother Natura), depending on how you look at it: the magic of grape juice being turned into wine was probably discovered by someone who forgot some grapes in an amphora, only to open the vessel later and find that they had been turned into wine (the original carbonic maceration). But the moment that someone employed this stumbled-upon technology (tehnê, meaning art or craft) a second time, it became an act of humankind…

Click here to read more…

In other news…

Dany the Red is now Dany the Green. Remember this post from East Germany back in September 2008? That’s me stage left, above, rocking out with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who was in the news today and whose “Europe Écologie coalition of European Green parties came in third in French voting for the [European] Parliament, winning 16.28 percent of the vote. It was just behind the squabbling Socialists, who had only 16.48 percent, and ahead of a presumptive presidential candidate, François Bayrou of the centrist Democratic Movement, or Modem.” Check out this article in the Times. I love how the girl in the photo above is wearing a bright red outfit.

By now you should know the identity of the mystery girl to whom I threw the kiss!

Dany le rouge

Nous Non Plus had a rocking time last night at the Bridging the Gaps Green Party party in Frankfurt an der Oder. But the real star of the evening was Daniel Cohn-Bendit (above, dancing), Dany le rouge (Danny “the Red”), one of the leaders of the student protests in May 1968 in France and the co-president of the European Greens–European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. He had just delivered the key-note talk, where he spoke about the crisis in Georgia and the Greens’ role in moving forward.

The party was fantastic, we did three encores, and then we danced away into the night with lots of new Green friends. Nous Non Plus has played a lot of crazy shows in our time but never had we seen a conga line in the audience. What a great crowd and what a great time. That air kiss above? The recipient knows who she is ;-).