This past April, Sacramento Bee food and wine writer (and now “critic at large”) Chris Macias spent a day with Tim Hanni in the wine educator’s Napa Valley home and discovered a few fascinating things. For one thing, Hanni is an iconoclast whose views are at odds with California’s surprisingly conservative wine culture. For another, the certified Master of Wine is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a swallow in 23 years, yet has found a way to flourish in a profession that’s all about swirling and tasting.
Macias’ profile of Hanni is included in the just-published “Best Food Writing 2015,” edited by Holly Hughes, the 16th edition of the anthology (Da Capo, $16, 320 pages). Contributors this year range from four-star chefs and home cooks, to journalists and “just plain folks” who are passionate about food and drink.
This is Macias’ second appearance in the series. The first was in the 2012 edition, for a profile of a former Fresno gang member turned pastry chef.
“I’d wanted to profile Tim Hanni for many years,” Macias said. “Once I got that chance, I submitted my story for consideration for ‘Best Food Writing 2015.’ I was truly thrilled to find out I made the cut.
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“This has been a highlight of my year,” he added. “It’s kind of surreal to be in the same anthology with some of my favorite writers, especially Tom Junod of Esquire and Anthony Bourdain. I’m just thrilled that the folks behind the anthology believed in my Tim Hanni story as much as I did.”
Hanni is the author of “Why You Like the Wines You Like,” which debunks a long list of wine myths. Speaking from his home, he said, “Isn’t this cool? Chris and I had a blast spending a day going through the sensory sciences and looking at what really happens when wines are paired with foods. Basically, he said to me, ‘Show me what you’ve got.’ My mission is to help people understand that, whether they like white zin or Opus One, it’s time we learned to respect personal preferences.”