From the folder marked "Why Didn't I Think of That?" comes Eric Asimov's brilliant and fun way to help people overcome their fear of wine. He's the wine columnist for The New York Times, where he outlined his teaching strategy last week. He's also posted it on his blog, The Pour.
Basically, his strategy involves a casually experimental approach to wine tasting whereby students at their own pace and in their own home explore a variety of wine styles. He's the first student. He asked two New York wine merchants to assemble mixed cases of wine that over the next few months he will taste, recording his impressions at The Pour. He set a budget of $250 for each case. He calls his approach The Dining Table Wine School.
The cases are fascinating. One is made up solely of European wines, except for a lone representative of the West Coast, the Sobon Estate 2005 Fiddletown Lubenko Vineyard Zinfandel ($20) from Amador County. The other case is a bit more varied, but still with an Old World orientation. And why not? Europe long has provided the grounding and the inspiration for winemaking about the world. But this is no contest. Rather, it will be a study in how one person responds to particular wines and what he learns from the experience. In the meantime, anyone can pull together his or her own similar if not identical mixed case and start his or her own study program.