I’m thoroughly enjoying Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s book "Drink This," and I had a jolly ol’ time interviewing her for this week’s Liquid Assets column.
One thing I really like is her approach to learning about wine. Spend a stretch of time delving into one varietal. Basically take your time and focus, rather than plunging into everything. “In six months, you can effectively be a zinfandel expert, even if you were only having one or two bottles a month.. So if you spent 2010 on sauvignon blanc and zinfandel, you would know those wines.”
More from the interview with Grumdahl:
On interviewing Robert Parker: “I sent out a lot of inquiries to his people, emails and calls. and all of a sudden one day the caller ID says ‘Robert Parker,’ and I thought ‘no WAY,’ it’ll be his secretary or somebody from his organization. But it was him. And I wasn’t ready at all.
“He’s a perfect example of how people who know about wine understand that he’s this great figure who has changed so much and done so much – but your average 22-year-old on a barstool has never heard of him, has no idea of all the changes and how he’s a figure of controversy.”
On zinfandel: “I feel like it’s the easiest wine to get to know rapidly. Also sauvignon blanc. I like zinfandel, but if I had all the money in the world I probably wouldn’t buy much. I think in terms of the $10 bottle of wine it’s really pretty solid. You’re not going to soar to any heights, but you’re not going to get ripped off."
On her non-target audience: “I had to decide that I didn’t want to have to worry about that ’gotcha’ from wine geeks, to have that angry person at their computer in the middle of the night going ’you are wrong! How dare you!’ Wine has a certain amount of angry nerds.
“I think of them like baseball stat guys. They know their baseball stats, and they have so much energy devoted to having done that and they want to kind of protect their turf and I had to be OK with, I know they will come out of the woodwork and say ‘you did everything wrong and I hate you.’ ”
On her favorite interview: “Talking to [Ridge winemaker] Paul Draper was so inspiring. I wish I could write the Paul Draper book. He’s just sooo smart. He just unifies so many different strands of ecology, agriculture, politics, philosophy. I could listen to Paul Draper for five years
On her toughest interview: “Joseph Bastianich. I have a lot of respect for him, but his idea, just do it, just try all of these Italian wines, I think that’s really out there. He doesn’t understand that he’s kind of ‘to the manor born. He’s been drinking it for free since he was knee-high to a duck”
On researching the book: “One of the things that I came across was how useless the Internet is. It’s a hard place to learn anything about anything, let’s say you wanted to learn about Champagne and you went to Wikipedia, you would know even less.”