Adam Gopnik: Big Into Intellectualism, Wine

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There's a powerful myth in that bottle. Photo: iStockphoto

Gopnik is one of the few people who still makes simply being smart look like a "viable career choice." So sayeth the Times' "Dining" section, which catches up with the New Yorker scribe upon the occasion of his latest book, a meditation on the French art of the meal. Sure, they cite his range of conversational expertise (references to "Orson Welles and Kenneth Tynan and A. J. Liebling"), ability to converse in French (sophistiqué!), and Savile Row suit, but that's not what truly marks Gopnik as a public intellectual. It's his ability to find something previously unknowable in a sip of wine.

“I would love a bottle of red Burgundy, if you’re a red Burgundy fan,” he said. “I like red Burgundy maybe more than anything there is.”

When a server presented him with the bottle of 2007 Beaune Grèves a few beats later, Mr. Gopnik was in the midst of talking about how "our arguments about values get expressed in our arguments about food.” But he set aside his train of thought and his voice dropped to a murmur when he tasted the wine.

"This is really nice,” he said. “Like everybody, I love pinot noir. At home we drink Oregon and California pinot noirs every night because they’re cheap and they’re delicious. But occasionally when you get a bottle of real French Burgundy you’re sort of reminded of all of the mystique and the smoke and the complexity. And the myth of France, which is a very powerful myth."

The man not only saves his splurges for someone else's expense account, he knows he's gotta sing for that supper.

Adam Gopnik on the Days of Great French Dining [NYT]