Eric Asimov is the primary wine critic at the New York Times, where he writes two columns for the paper, “The Pour” and “Wines of the Times.” In addition, he maintains an online blog for the paper, also called “The Pour.” Asimov is noted for his “thoughtful, objective, yet inclusive” approach to wine. His freelance writing can be found in such publications as Food and Wine, Details, Martha Stewart Living, and Sommelier Journal. He also wrote the book, “How to Love Wine,” and co-authored “The New York Times Guide to Restaurants 2004.”
Asimov was born July 17, 1957 in Bethpage, New York to Stanley Asimov, a former VP at Newsday, and Ruth Asimov, a ceramic artist. He attended college at Wesleyan University, graduating in 1980. He went on to pursue graduate work in American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. In the early 1980s Asimov worked for The Chicago Sun-Times, but in 1984 he left to begin his career working for the New York Times. Asimov began his New York Times career as an editor in National News. He then went on to become the editor of the Living Section from 1991 to 1994, and from 1994 to 1995 he edited the Styles of The Times section. Mr. Asimov took on the newly created position of chief wine critic at the New York Times in 2004.
In 1992, Mr. Asimov created and wrote the “$25 and Under” column, focused on restaurants where people can eat a complete meal, including appetizer, main course, and dessert, for under $25. After several years, the term “$25 and under” became less literal and simply synonymous with “inexpensive.” The popularity and success of these reviews and features led to Asimov’s annual compilation books of his columns, called “$25 and Under: A Guide to the Best Inexpensive Restaurants in New York,” published from 1995 to 1998 by HarperCollins.
In his book, How to Love Wine, Asimov asserted some of his beliefs that many in the wine world have found quite intense and somewhat shocking. For one, Asimov opposes tasting notes. He hypothesizes, “Has anyone ever made a decision about a glass of wine because they like berry and don't like cherry?"
Asimov also despises blind tasting and has considered doing away with it for his New York Times reviews. He believes blind tasting limits the critics in that they are unable to take into account the history and context of a particular wine. He says, “I have not encountered a single person, including the American producers who arrange these tastings, who would willingly trade their holdings of Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Champagne for the upstart wines that have just bested them in blind tastings."
Eric Asimov is married to Deborah Hoffman, editor of the New York Times Best Seller List since 2001. They have two sons, Jack and Peter, and reside in Manhattan.
When discussing his position as chief wine critic at the New York Times, Asimov says, “My role, more of a responsibility, is to speak my mind about wines. To offer an honest opinion about wines, the people, the culture, the politics, in an effort to illuminate what's most wonderful and what's interesting about wine. I don't see my role as to assess what's in the glass, but to place wine in a cultural context. In a broad way, I'm making the case for people that wine is a very large part of our culture. By making that case I hope I inspire different ways of thinking about wine, and different ways of approaching it that go beyond simply saying what the beverage tastes like. My role is partly consumer advocate, partly inspirational, and partly cautionary.”
FULL NAME: Eric Asimov
DATE OF BIRTH: July 17, 1957
OCCUPATION: Chief Wine Critic for the New York Times
UNDERGRAD: Wesleyan University
RESIDENCE: New York, New York