Vintage Asimov

The New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov has had some serious, “larger than life” competition in the family genes with his Newsday wunderkind father Stanley, and uncle Isaac Asimov, the brilliant and prolific science/science fiction writer. So, when he penned a book of his own, I was keen to read it.There are two things wrong with his book, “How to Love Wine, A Memoir and Manifesto.” First of all, it’s the wrong title as the book is about so much more than loving wine. As a matter of fact, the best parts are those in which he recounts his personal stories, not the wines per se. I guess he was playing to his audience, but a cloistered teetotaler could fully enjoy this memoir.Second, it was over way too soon. He could have followed his uncle in a lengthier missive and not bored me for a second.The wall above my desk holds two pictures of Isaac and me. Isaac, my husband Don and I were guests at the 75th birthday party of our mutual friend and fellow science fiction writer, L. Sprague de Camp and his wife – and muse in all things de Camp related – Catherine. (Isaac really had the hots for Catherine who was several years older but oh so captivating.)The next time I would see Isaac we would be filming segments with him as the host for a PBS show based on Sprague’s book, “Man the Engineer” at the American Express Studio on Wall Street. I handed over a nice fat check to Isaac that day. He in turn read from the teleprompter words he had never seen before, in one take, while correcting fine points along the way, while writing me dirty limericks on the back of a white John Wanamaker Department store paper bag (that I had placed my used gum in – it’s as hard as a rock today), and while rubbing my eight month pregnant belly that is now my 28-year-old daughter.Eric doesn’t mention Isaac in his book, though I feel much of that This is the option if you’re wanting to do a longer more in depth tutorial just email us with the idea for the article and well be in touch as to whether we think we can use it or not on the blog. same subtle humor in his words. While not “in your face” irreverent, as I have been from time-to-time in my two wine documentary films, A Passion for the Vine and A State of Vine , Eric patiently and with poignant examples to prove his point, attacks some of the more pretentious aspects of wine writing, such as tasting notes, which he suggests are a waste of time at best. (Amen.)He relegates critics such as Alder Yarrow of the blog Vinography to a highbrow “time out” by suggesting:    “To assert that tasting notes amount to an “intellectual dissection” of a wine is to ignore the fact that that the more specific the description of the 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.” (Amen part deux.)Again with gentility but nonetheless amusing, he takes on Gary Vaynerchuk, the over the top, anything for a reaction Wine Library TV guy, whose verbal tasting notes include flavors like “sheep’s butt,” “sweaty,” and “dead deer with a little black pepper and strawberries” as equally self indulgent and alienating. (Amen for the third but hardly last time!)Later, discussing aspects of wine anxiety, Asimov talks about the snobbishness of wine. “That’s one reason we have a fascination with athletes and rock and rollers who love wine – it goes against type for those who might otherwise be considered salt-of-the-earth types or rebels to embrace wine.”Here, I heartily disagree. I have interviewed many athletes and rock and rollers in my films, but with a very different intent. I was not seeking to understand why they were going against type in their passion for wine, but why the terroir and the dirt and the process of making and drinking wine was so interesting to them with so many other interesting things at their disposal. Coincidentally, the answers I found, point directly at Asimov’s “manifesto” time and time again.My first adventure into the visual stories of wine aficionados, led me to produce a sequel, for there was more to tell. I hope Asimov does the same thing – he has more stories to tell, too.