Thomas Baldwin, Wine Critic

One in a series introducing the characters of Sotto Voce.


Thomas Baldwin wants you to know he's worldly. Or at least, he wants you to believe it.

As the wine editor for Taste Magazine, he has a global lifestyle a lot of people would envy: the New York apartment, the designer clothes, the open-door policy to some of the best wine cellars at some of the finest restaurants in the world.

But is it really him?

Before adopting Thomas as his professional monicker, Tom Baldwin was a strawberry blond Carolina transplant who had headed north for college. He had hoped to one day work for a major daily, maybe the New York Times, but stumbled into the wine business when the sommelier at a restaurant he worked at noticed that he had a natural knack for the nuances of wine.  He climbed the ladder rapidly, and soon nabbed the job of wine critic at Taste, an up-and-coming style magazine.

He develops a reputation as a tough and influential critic, and he enjoys the trappings of his career—right up until the point where his boss informs him that he'll be relocating to California for a year.

While the California wine country might sound like a nice vacation, for Thomas Baldwin it means a year cast out to farmland, and an assignment to pull off a contest that he thinks his boss would happily rig if it meant new ad revenue for her fledgling publication. The fact that he almost has to beg the small, artisan winemakers of Sonoma to compete against the big brand name wineries of neighboring Napa—shouldn't they be begging him, really?—only makes it worse.

The immersion into this world—and a slowly-developing friendship with an enigmatic winemaker—forces him to take a different look at his life and his priorities. It also brings out some of his strongest qualities as he finds himself drawn to the lifestyle and to a relationship that may change his life.

Sotto Voce is available Tuesday from and book retailers everywhere.