A Toast to Jim Harrison

© Grant Delin/Corbis

By Ray Isle Posted March 28, 2016

The novelist and poet Jim Harrison was known as a gourmand, and an opinionated one to boot, but fewer people know that he was one of the best wine writers around.

The novelist and poet Jim Harrison was known as a gourmand, and an opinionated one to boot, but fewer people know that he was one of the best wine writers around. Partly that's because he was really a wine lover—esoterica regarding acidity levels and soil composition didn't interest him, but the pleasure of a great glass of wine did.

The easiest and probably best way to consume his wine writing is to pop over to Amazon and purchase The Raw & The Cooked, his collection of essays on food, which contains plenty of engaging commentary on wine as well. With a little more effort, though, it's also possible to track down online the regular essays he wrote for wine importer Kermit Lynch's monthly newsletters. A few great examples are here, here and here. One quote to make the point that the effort is worth it: "We are delightfully trapped by our memories. I can't drink a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieux Télégraphe without revisiting a hotel bistro in Luzerne, Switzerland, where I ate a large bowl of a peppery Basque baby goat stew. A sip and a bite. A bite and sip. Goose bumps come with the divine conjunction of food and wine."

Indeed. It's also possible that in checking out Harrison's wine writing, you might bump into one of his novels and get hooked on those, too. That would be another good way to respect his memory.

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