I’ve never been the “wine and dine” type. Not in the sense of taking a girl out, but rather drinking wine while eating. Order me a Heineken and I’ll be all smiles the rest of the night. Send me a glass of Merlot, and I might just spaz like Miles in Sideways. So, it was quite ironic when I found myself smack dab in the middle of “Books on the Square” last weekend to attend a book signing by NY Times Wine Critic Eric Asimov.
Within minutes of arriving, I was wiggling my way through a room full of wine experts and enthusiasts. A bit intimidating to say the least. However, intimidation eventually brings curiosity and being curious was part of the reason I accepted an invite from May Babcock of Bottles to attend this unique melting pot of grapes and gab.
Another reason I couldn’t say no to a night like this was the generous support for such a great cause as proceeds from book and wine sales went directly to Reach Out and Read Rhode Island. For over 20 years, Reach Out and Read RI has progressively built the relationship between doctors and patients to spread the importance of reading aloud. There are over 40 participating programs in the state and counting, so it was a great touch by the organizers of the event to include the folks at ROARRI.
The night started with a wine tasting (accompanied by a few cheese trays) composed of four wines that were meant to attract the unsure drinker. Wine can be very complex, on a variety of levels (year, aromas, etc.), so for the novice, it was an approachable way to try new and different flavors. If you’re the type to go for the abstract, sometimes outlandish variants of wines, this selection would have left you disappointed.
A personal favorite of mine was the Dolcetto d’Alba (pictured above). At first sip there were welcoming hints of fruit and it was pleasantly dry, so I wasn’t forced to make a bitter beer face after drinking it. The other wines were ok, but the d’Alba definitely stood out to me.
For nearly an hour, Eric read intricate excerpts from his book, How to Love Wine. He also offered insight into the world of a NY Times food and wine critic and clearly explained the simplicity of wine. If it tastes good then drink it. If not, why the hell are you spending your money on it? Whether it’s a $100 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or a $10 bottle of Moscato at the local Walgreens, just make sure to enjoy it.
Towards the end of the Q&A, Eric specifically mentioned the “fusion” between the food we eat, the wine we drink and the people we enjoy being around. Wine is the proverbial core of that fusion and a greater emphasis on wine selection can turn a boring “Shepard’s Pie Tuesdays” into dinner full of spirited conversations and good company.