She had poor eyesight, which she often said strengthened her other senses, particularly those of smell and taste. A grower taught her about soil — one aspect of the different terroirs, or microclimates, that mark a grape — by handing her a spoon. One can taste the difference from parcel to parcel, her son Peter said of the land: “Every single one has its own personality, just like people.”
Ms. Wasserman-Hone was no wine snob; she said she’d rather drink a simple red Burgundy on its old vines than a grand cru on its fourth leaf, which, Peter Wasserman pointed out, “is a baby; it can barely translate its place.”
And she had no patience with the flowery language of contemporary wine descriptors, the jam, fruit and spice adjectives employed by some connoisseurs. She might say, rather, that a young Corton made her think of Mick Jagger, because it had a strut.
But she felt it was important for people to talk about wine in their own ways. “We have too many words today to describe something that’s fairly simple,” she told Levi Dalton on his wine podcast, “I’ll Drink to That!,” in 2017.
She met her third husband, Russell Hone, a British wine representative, at a wine tasting in London. She was so flustered, she later recalled, that all she could think of to say was “I like your shirt.” When they met the next day at another event, he had bought her an identical shirt as a gift. They married in 1989, and he joined her company, Becky Wasserman & Company. His job title is “aubergiste,” which means “innkeeper,” and he is often the company chef.
Dinner at the Wasserman-Hone household, Ms. Feiring said, was one of the most coveted invitations in Burgundy. The restaurateur Michel Troisgros, the wine arbiter Robert Parker and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor have all made the pilgrimage.
Tasting wines during a meal was one of the many ways that Ms. Wasserman-Hone and her colleagues, who included her sons, Peter and Paul, nurtured their growers, asking wine to be sent to their office so they could sample it at lunchtime. “Sounds of appreciation are weightier than words,” she once told The Los Angeles Times. “We grade by ‘oohs’ and ‘mmms,’ six being the ultimate accolade.”