Savoring Gerald Asher
"I enjoy his writing in the same way I enjoy a very good Madeira," says my wine-loving pal Bob Ross. "A bottle can last me a month of sipping a little bit each night or two. Asher's writing is like that for me."
Asher was born in Britain, lives in San Francisco, and spends a lot of his time in France and the rest of the world's wine regions. He has been Gourmet magazine's wine editor for more than 30 years, a post whose primary duty seems to be writing the magazine's monthly wine column, "Wine Journal." He learned about wine during 40 years in the wine-selling trade, a chronology that reveals some overlap between his commercial and literary careers, as he turned 70 last year.
Asher may not turn up on many "most influential" or even "most well-known" lists of wine writers - he received just 10 votes (of 517 cast) in our recent Wine Lovers' Voting Booth poll on "Favorite Wine Writer," trailing a dozen writers behind the one-two combination of Robert M. Parker Jr., (69 votes) and Jancis Robinson (48).
But when serious wine enthusiasts start talking about "stylish" or even "literate" wine writing, Asher's name comes up more often than any other. In the recent Wine Lovers' Discussion Group conversation that inspired Bob Ross's comments above, Robert Noecker wrote, "Just as great wines convey a sense of place, Asher's writings about wine regions he visits communicate to the reader who may never get a chance to visit a palpable sense of the historical perspective, personalities, culture, atmosphere of place and relevance of the wines about which he writes so eloquently."
Added Keith Marton: "In person he is just as charming, knowlegdeable and 'non-arrogant' as one might imagine from reading his work. I view him as one of the best there is."
Based on these discussions, I recently browsed through a couple of Asher's most recent books - "Vineyard Tales," and "The Pleasures of Wine" - to get to know him better. Both books are anthologies of his published work, each containing roughly 30 essay-form articles that make it easy to dip in and enjoy a chapter or two without feeling a need to keep reading until you finish the book. As Bob Ross points out, these essays are enjoyable to sit back and savor, much as you might enjoy a glass of exceptional wine.
To give you a sense of Asher's style, let's wrap up today's report with a few of his quotable quotes on wine-related topics of interest:
Tempted? The following links will take you to information on Amazon.com about Asher's two most recent books. Should you elect to use these links to buy either book, we'll receive a small commission at WineLoversPage.com:
The Pleasures of Wine (2002)
Vineyard Tales, Reflections on Wine (1996)
If you would like to read - or join in - our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group conversation on this topic, see "What do you think of Gerald Asher, and why?
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Wednesday, March 26, 2003