A Rose By Any Other Name

As maddening as it is, it’s impossible to get around the importance of The New York Times. It is the voice of the political, media, culture and business establishment, meaning the people and institutions how represent the plurality of values and taste of those with enough money or prominence to be allowed expression in the mass media. It also is full of valuable international news, good local coverage and occasional good writing and editing, and of course Paul Krugman and Frank Rich (no need to read Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd and Ross Douthat – they just write the same thing over and over again).

In Dining & Wine, they publish Mark Bittman and Harold McGee, which is valuable. They also publish Frank Bruni’s restaurant reviews and Eric Asimov on wine, and they both are excellent representatives of literal establishment taste. Asimov especially considers French wines to be the first, second, third and fourth considerations, and seems to consider himself some kind of Columbus figure, marveling at the existence of things that many of us have been enjoying for years – look, beer from Belgium! Absinthe! Vodka!

His latest on rosé has driven me to the keyboard. As a rosé lover and semi-professional chef and restaurateur, I’ve enjoyed a lot of the wines and tried even more, and so I find his discussion and list frustrating. With rare exceptions, I have found French rosés bland and homogenous in style (but that may be what establishment taste craves). There are plenty of dry, pink wines out there with enough body, taste and variety that they are a pleasure to drink anytime, anywhere, and I do mean pleasure – the idea of rosé is the simple satisfaction of drinking. My personal favorite over the last two summers has been the Wolffer Estate version; it’s dry, has excellent body and a long finish for this type of wine, it’s a great pleasure. The Il Mimo is excellent as well, even more robust and spicy, but a bit less complex. These aren’t wines you’re supposed to like, but ones you will love. Salute!


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.

One comment

  • Thanks for posting this.
    I too am quite frustrated by Asimov’s writing. While I give him props for being a good writer (no small feat in a field filled with purple-prosed puffery (ahem)), I can’t help but notice that the wines he reviews almost consistently come from the same 3-4 importers. It’s hard to take seriously his “best of” lists when they are drawn from such a small pool of what you can actually find in the city.

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