Anne Fadiman, the author of The Wine Lover’s Daughter, A Memoir, is an author in author in her own right. Her father, Clifton Fadiman, was “an essayist, critic, editor, and indefatigable anthologist whose encyclopedic knowledge made him a mainstay of “Information Please” and other popular radio programs in the late 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s” according to his obituary in the New York Times.
Through a series of essays, she explores her relationship with her father, using wine as the metaphor for their relationship. Fadiman was a wine connoisseur who had a remarkable wine cellar and wrote the Joy of Wine, with Sam Aaron. His daughter writes about his love affair with wine, the way most people talk about the grand love(s) of their life.
“But I have to admit that our similarities far outnumbered our differences. we were not only both writers, but both devotees of Vermeer, late bedtimes, anagrams, and doggerel, which we often composed for family celebrations…”
“In the gastronomic realm, the only area of marked disagreement was the one in which I wised we were most similar….” Wine was the area where they disagreed. Anne thought wine “had too much taste.” In a later chapter, she meets with Dr. Utermohlen, in Ithaca who offers her a scientific explanation about why wine tastes more different to her than it does to most people.
Although the book deals more with Clifton, than it does with Anne, it is a beautifully written book that explores the complexity of a lower-middle class Jewish man growing up in Brooklyn, who was able to move to Manhattan based upon his intellect and drive. Although Clifton felt like he did not belong, except through his extensive love and knowledge of wine, his daughter provides many compelling arguments that he did belong in the WASP corridors of prominence and privilege.