When I first met Lora Zarubin I never could have imagined that we would find ourselves locked in adjacent cells in the police station of a provincial French town at 3 in the morning. In fact I never thought I’d see her again after our disastrous first encounter, which took place in 1995 at the Grill Room of the Four Seasons hotel. My friend Dominique Browning had recently been appointed editor in chief of House and Garden and she’d decided to ramp up the magazine’s coverage of food and wine. She’d already hired Lora as food editor and Lora was quite adamant that there should be a regular wine column. Dominique, a longtime friend, knew about my passion for wine, and she thought it would be interesting to have someone outside the field write about it. When she proposed me, Lora and some of the other editors were aghast. I was known for, among other things, for writing about people who abused controlled substances and Lora found it hard to believe I knew much about wine. I had a reputation as a party animal; no one had ever accused me of being a connoisseur.Continue Reading
Books on Wine
Most of these essays were written for my new gig at the Wall Street Journal, which began in April of 2010. Fortunately I get more words at the Journal than I did at House and Garden and I really like the new length. I also included some very long pieces including an article I wrote about the late great restaurant El Bulli for Vanity Fair and an essay about my great friend and traveling companion Lora Zarubin, the former food editor of House and Garden, who had a lot to do with shaping and channeling my passions for food and wine.
A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine
My second collection of columns, this one published by Knopf, ranges from Old World to New World, but it shows a shift in my tastes, I think, toward more subtle wines, and an increasing interest in Pinot noir and Riesling, as opposed to Cabernet and Chardonnay. I like to think the tone of this book still reflects the enthusiasm and innocence of a passionate amateur, but there’s no question that I’m more confident and knowledgeable after almost a decade of writing about wine.
Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar
I’d been writing a wine column for House and Garden for about four years when I was approached by an editor from Lyons Press who asked if I’d consider collecting the essays for a book. I thought what the hell, at the least it will make a nice housewarming gift. Knopf, my regular publisher, happily gave permission, not wanting to bother with it, but the book ending selling about forty thousand in hardcover. Most of these were written in the mid to late nineties, a real golden age in Napa and Sonoma, when winemaker Helen Turley was changing the landscape. Napa cult cabs were the rage. But there are bulletins from France, Italy and elsewhere here.
Just back from Burgundy. Yeah, I know, sounds great. If I had a bottle of La Tache for every person who’s said how lucky I am to get paid to taste wines in places like Napa and Bordeaux and Burgundy I’d be one very happy wino, but the reality of the wine writer’s job—even a part timer like myself—is not necessarily as glamorous as it sounds.Continue Reading
1. Drink less, but better. I don’t necessarily expect to keep this one, but I like to make it every year, and at the end of the year I can tell myself I’m batting 500; even if I don’t drink less, I do tend to drink better as I learn more and as the older wines in my cellar reach maturity. And it’s my firm belief that the better the wine, the less it hurts you in the morning.Continue Reading