Wine is a subject that has held a special fascination for me for well over fifty years. In fact, I used to write a wine column for Abel Magazine and Park West back in the late 60s and early 70s. That made me a kind of pioneer as writing about wine wasn’t widespread in those days (when the only useful reference written by an American was Frank Schoonmaker’s Encyclopedia of Wine, published in 1964; Hugh Johnson’s first book on the subject, Wine, came out in 1966; then, in 1970 Time-Life published one of the first mass-market books on the subject, Wine and Spirits, by Alec Waugh, as part its Food of the World Series). The first winery that I wrote about was Pleasant Valley Wine Company, in Hammondsport–in what would become the Finger Lakes AVA–back in 1971. I received this letter from the winery after my piece was published in Abel Magazine:
Unfortunately, I had to drop my column after a few years to pursue an M.A. in Art History (fine art is another passion of mine) & make a living, first by teaching history and art history at the Lenox School in Manhattan and later working at Sotheby’s, the art auction house. Now, over 40 years later, with a WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits–a strong professional credential (and as difficult to earn as, say, an MS in Biology, though it is much more agreeable to work with wine as one must taste it, think about it, and drink and enjoy it, preferably with fellow oenophiles). I’ve now returned to writing about the grape and its astonishing and delightful product with a bit more knowledge and understanding than I had when I first wrote about it so many years ago.
One focus of my posts shall be the wines of New York State and its five major wine regions, of which there are a number of really outstanding ones, and of Ontario, which also produces fine table wine as well as world-class ice wine. I’ll also explore other wines of the Northeast as well as other East Coast regions, such as New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, which I believe ought to be better known. From this you may conclude that I belong to the Drink-Local-Wine movement and you’d be right. I also believe that of course you should drink whatever strikes your fancy, wherever it’s from, that is affordable and good value. However, I’d add one caveat–the wine should be an honest one, true to its variety and its place of origin (terroir).
This blog is not updated daily–indeed, new posts shall be published on an irregular schedule for a while, until I have the time to devote myself to it fully. In addition, I will update posts as new information becomes available and is pertinent to a post. If the new material is significant, I shall republish the post with a new date. In fact, I hope that my blog shall be deemed a reference, useful to academics, people in the wine trade, and serious wine aficionados.
My approach — be advised — tends to the academic, but I feel that this is an approach that is not widely available on the wine blognet. I hope that you will find it readable, informative, interesting, useful, and thought-provoking.
With respect to the image of the vine-crowned head in the header of this page, here is the complete picture:
Bacchus, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, ca. 1597. It depicts an effete Roman youth posing as the god, with two beautifully-rendered still-lifes (the wreath on the lad’s head and the bowl of fruit before him), and a carafe and glass of red wine, proffered to us as an offering.
So let us pour some good wine, clink our glasses together, and repeat the proverbial Spanish toast, “Salud, pesetas, amor, y tiempo para gozarlos.”*
Now, on to the posts.
*”Health, wealth, love, and the time to enjoy them.”
[This was originally published on 2 May 2010]