About Tom

Tom Maresca has been writing about wine for 30 years. He is the author of two wine books, Mastering Wine (which won the first-ever Clicquot Prize for Wine Book of the Year) and The Right Wine. He has been in recent years a frequent contributor to Decanter and to Quarterly Review of Wines. He is also the co-author, with his wife, Diane Darrow, of two major books on Italian food, wine, and dining: La Tavola Italiana and The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen; as well as a mini ecookbook (with wine recommendations), Not The Same Old Spaghetti Sauce. Now retired, he was a professor of English at Stony Brook University and has published four books on academic subjects.

40 Responses to “About Tom”

  1. Joe Haviland Says:


    Have you done anything on South Africa? Don’t see it on the links. I’d be interested.

    Joe Haviland (prep)

  2. Patrick W. Ciccone Says:

    Hi Tom,
    I greatly enjoy your writing here–I recently picked up and read The Right Wine as well, which I also enjoyed immensely. What both have made me want to do is drink more old wine–I was wondering if you had any postscript to your recommendations in The Right Wine about what to age long term, especially given the vast increase in price of some of the great cellarable wines (which unfortunately may never be drunk by collectors at all…) I am also intrigued by the selection of 1960s and 1970s wines from the Piedmont available at Chambers Street Wines, but wondering if such bottles really need the context of younger older wines first to appreciate–unfortunately, I have drunk very few bottles of anything more than 15 years old at this point, but would like to start, and would like to do for the next few decades with pleasure.

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      That is a huge question, especially when price is — as it always is — a factor as well. I would definitely look into Barbaresco, especially the cru wines from Produttori, and into some of the less famous Chateauneuf du Pape estates. Taurasi is still fairly priced, and some Sicilian wines are almost bargains — Benanti’s Etna wines, Palari, and a few others. I still revere some smaller Bordeaux estates — Brane Cantenac, Gloria, Pontet Canet (though its price has risen mightily). As for what such wines need to be appreciated: I’d say an attentive and receptive palate, which you seem to have, is the prime requisite. Taste everything you can, and go on with what impresses you most. And before I forget: I have great respect for Chambers Street’s stock and its staff’s knowledge. I don’t think they will steer you wrong.

  3. Beersinger LePetomaine Says:

    As a former Stony Brooker, I certainly remember the people Hildegarde Browne mentions but can’t say that I’ve kept track of the people I knew then. I do remember you, Tom, and Diane fondly from those early 1970s times. I have kept in contact with Roy Peter Clark but have lost contact with everyone else.

    I came across this wine blog sort of accidentally; “sort of” because I remembered from some reference of the past that you had written about wine, so went looking when I was tracking down one or another wine recently. I’m much more a beer geek than a wine aficionado, but like to read about wines that I buy or would like to buy.

    About three weeks ago Judith and I visited some dear, old Setauket friends from those Stony Brook years. It was the first time we’ve been out there in decades. They took us on a tour of the campus. I recognized exactly none of it – not because my memory has failed; rather, the campus is huge and entirely altered. One thing I did recognize, though it was completed after I left, is the Bertrand Goldberg hospital building, having seen it in a few visits in the 1980s. I’m a docent at Chicago Architecture Foundation/Center, and on our tours we have a number of Goldberg buildings to talk about. But I digress.

    I still value having been present at the birth of your book “Epic to Novel,” a book I happily mention and misquote to this day.

    I hope that you and Diane are well.

    Ed McDevitt

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hi, Ed. Great to hear from you after all these years. Diane and I remember you fondly, not only for your grand performances in Mighty Chaucer Art Players productions but also because you put us onto James Blish and several other fine Scifi writers, as well as the Aubrey/Maturin novels. We hope you are well and prospering.

      I haven’t been on campus in quite a few years myself: I suspect I could get lost now. The whirligig of time brings in his revenges (I think that’s an accurate quote).

      All best, Tom and Diane

  4. Joshua London Says:

    Recently got a copy of your book, The Right Wine (a friend gave me gifted me a copy saying that despite its age of pubication, it was not much dated). Thoroughly enjoying itII

    Curious to know if you still think your “risky generalization number 4000” that “most Italian wine have more acid than most of the wines of France or the United States” is accurate still as generalizations go.

    Ditto for #4001 that “French and Italian wines have contrasting characters and complementary strengths and weaknesses”. Do you think any of this has much changed, in general terms, since you wrote those words in the early 1990s?

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Interesting questions. I think that, if anything, those tendencies have intensified. There are exceptions, of course, but Italian wines usually have much more acidity than California wines and modestly more than French. Both Italian and French wines seem to me more food-friendly than California wines, though there are vast differences between them in terms of grape varieties, terroir, and wine-making styles. To explain all that in any detail would require writing another book, and at my age I’m not about to do that.

  5. go-g'ma-go! Says:

    Dear Sir,

    I was recently gifted with a bottle of Melini, Granaio, Chianti Classico 2014 DAL 1705. Will you kindly teach me if this is a long-keeping wine? My daughter just returned from Italy and said this vintner was one of her favorites.

    Kind regards,


    • Tom Maresca Says:

      It’s an excellent wine, but unless it says Riserva on the label, it’s not a long-keeping one. I would normally drink a Chianti Classico at about five years of age, give or take a year, but you could open this anytime you felt so moved.

  6. Hildegard Browne Says:

    I was just looking at different things online and your name popped into my head and that’s how I found you. I still keep in touch with Erwin Wong, Ed Hagan, Norm Wallis and Mr. Rogers passed away about 8 years ago. His daughter wrote to me at Christmas. That’s how I keep in touch with all of them and them with me through Christmas cards. We live in Florida since 1978.

  7. Hildegard Browne Says:

    Hello, Tom. I don’t know if you remember me, but I was one of the secretary’s in the English Department back in the early 70’s till 1978. I worked with Mrs. Grimm, Rose Williams and Mary Bruno. I still keep in touch with some of the Graduate students and Professors from back then. Your books sounds interesting.
    Hildegard Browne

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hi, Hildegard. I do indeed remember you. It’s nice to hear from you: There aren’t too many of us still around from those days at Stony Brook. Have you become interested in wine, or did you find my blog by chance?

  8. Marco M. Says:

    what a wonderful blog!
    For an Italian wine lover, who’s too often wary of the way American drinkers and critics misunderstand the wine I most appreciate, finding out such a beatiful mix of experience, knowledge and sensibility is astonishing.
    Too bad, I’ve just discovered and only by chance.
    On the plus side, there’s a lot of material I have still to read.

  9. Vino Travels (@VinoTravels21) Says:

    Don’t know where I’ve been that I’ve just discovered your blog. I write a blog as well on Italian wine, but don’t have nearly quite the expertise you do and look forward to learning more.

  10. Frank Parks Says:

    Hi Tom,

    You don’t appear to have changed a bit. My wife and I enjoy your books and now your blog. We’re going to Rome for the first time at the end of the month (after having been to northern Italy a couple of times) and wonder if you have any suggestions for dining and imbibing.

    Best wishes, and my best to Diane.

    Frank Parks (setting to retire in a couple of years after 38 years in the academic saddle, believe it or not, and a grandfather of three; how time goes by)

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hi, Frank. Great to hear from you after all this time. You certainly bring back memories of early days at Stony Brook — and your having three grandchildren makes me realize how many years back those are! Now that I have your email address, I’ll send you some recommendations for Rome by that route.

  11. Lynne Mortimer Koontz Says:

    Wow! There you are, Tom, and you still have the moustache! I remember the heavenly meals you and Diane used to serve to the SUNY graduate students who were lucky enough to get invited. We appreciated that so much.

    Lynne Mortimer Koontz

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hey, Lynne! Nice to hear from you. Yes, I still have the moustache, though it’s no longer black. Love your email address. Are you still horseback riding? Diane says hello also.

  12. Rick Heimann Says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog looking for commentary on on Vallena Boca.I enjoy your style and am impressed by your background. I have spent eight years as a winegrower in California, took many courses at UC Davis and read too many wine books. However the finest of them, in my view, is “I drink therefore I am” (a philosopher’s guide to wine) by Roger Scruton. If you are familiar with this book I would be interested in your view of it.
    Rick Heimann

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hi Rick. Scruton’s book is on my to-be-read list. I had been postponing reading it because I was somewhat put off by some British reviewers, who made it sound as if it was a right-wing political diatribe (British academic politics can be very weird: I should have known that). My interest in the book was rekindled — in a very interesting coincidence, given your interest in Vallana Boca — by Marina Fogarty, one of the siblings now running Vallana, who in her time free from the winery is studying for a PhD in philosophy. Interesting people make interesting wine: that should be a wine world axiom. Anyhow: lovely people, great wines, but I haven’t yet gotten to Scruton. Your comment may be the final push I need. Thanks.

  13. Geoff Weller Says:

    Hi Tom

    I stumbled across your blog in a typically Internet-searching sort of way while I was researching grape varieties in the Campania region. I started reading and soon became engrossed. I felt something wasn’t quite right, and I soon realised I was very much enjoying the read for its own sake. Then it dawned on me of course: your blog is extraordinarily well written and is a pleasure to read. This is not what you expect from your average blog.

    Then when I came to the ‘About Tom’ page and saw ‘Professor of English’ it all made sense. If only there wasn’t !more quality writing out there….



  14. Jacek Says:

    Hello. Great greetings from Poland. Your blog is very interesting and I found it lookin’ for any lore about barolo. The map of Barolo, thats what I need

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hi Jacek. There’s a search box on my site – scroll down to the bottom of the right-hand column to find it – and just type in “Barolo maps.” You’ll get links to five relevant articles.

  15. Ole Udsen Says:

    Hi Tom,

    Found your blog, and am now following it. In the meanwhile have been busy setting up my own blog. You may want to check it out at http://oleudsenwineblog.wordpress.com/.

    Best regards

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Hi, Ole. It was a pleasure meeting you in Puglia, and I am now following your blog also. I noted with considerable pleasure that we tend to agree about many of the wines we tasted there: it’s always re-assuring, when confronted with so many new wines, to have your judgment corroborated by someone whose palate you respect.

  16. Burton Anderson Says:

    Hi Tom. Delighted to hear from you and to learn you also have a blog. I look forward to following it and appreciate the fact that you’ll be following mine. Un abbraccio, Burton

  17. Marilyn Zucker Says:

    I’ve yet to read your wine book (shall do!) but will never forget how well, in your other life, you taught me to read a literary text! Ever grateful!

  18. Louis Maresca Says:

    Hi Tom! My family, originally from Sorrento Italy, live in the NYC/NJ area and just love your books and blog! I currently live in Seattle, WA, but enjoy visiting home all the time. Have any East Coast wine recommendations? (maybe upstate ny?) Thank you for introducing us to the world of wine.

  19. Xavier Muñoz Says:

    Dear Tom. I was so pleasantly surprised to read your blog about your trip to Ecuador and how the wine I found for you was not bad at all. I thank you for mentioning Ecuador in your blog, our company and my name. I do have to mention that your bird numbers are wrong. Ecuador does not have 600 species of birds but 1,600. It does not matter, though. I just wanted to touch base and thank you so very much for mentioning Ecuador and its wine in your classy blog.
    With much respect, Xavier

  20. Alfonso Cevola Says:

    Hi Tom:

    wonderful to see you in bloggerdom. Now I wont be the only silverback in here!

    I’ll link you up on my wacky Eyetalian blog.


  21. Damien Says:

    Hello Tom,

    Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoyed “The Right Wine” when I picked it up years ago. I was cooking in Paris and reading everything I could to better understand how to pair food and wine when I found it. Your approach made sense to me and it has become my go to suggestion when folks ask where to begin. I didn’t realize that you have a blog and have included you in my favorites.

    Fyi, your link for “The Right Wine” goes to “Mastering Wine” on Amazon.

    With my thanks,


    • Tom Maresca Says:

      I’m glad the book was useful to you, Damien. And my thanks for pointing out the wrong link. It’s fixed now.

  22. Tom Gass Says:

    Read your remarks in Westview about Barbera and the soil of Piedmont. In 1971 I drank a remarkable bottle of SIZZANO the label further read Denominazioe di Origine Controllata, Imbottigliato dal Produttore all’Origine, Cantina Sociale Di Sizzano E Ghemme, Sede e Stabilimento in Sizzano, Piemonte and in the upper right: selected by Gabriella. I subsequently heard that in a blind tasting at Sherry Lehman, Sam Arons (embarassingly) pronounced it the best among a field of wines many times the price. Please, where can I find its successors?

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      I wish I could tell you. You’re right: Sizzani is — or was — a wonderful, greatly underpriced wine. The denomination still exists (though I’m not sure the Cantina Sociale — that’s a co-operative winery — still does), but it has fallen off the radar in the past ten years, and I’m not at all sure it’s being imported right now. Your best bet would be to Google it, or try one of the wine search engines such as Wine Surf or Wine Zapp. Good luck!

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