A National Voice in Wines and Spirits, from the Riviera

At his home studio
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

The voice is deep and reassuring. This is partly because the speaker, Anthony Dias Blue, has more than 30 years of experience with his subject: wine and food.

If you tune in to radio KNX 1070 after 8 p.m. on most weekdays, you will hear him hold forth on these and related subjects in a weekly program called “The Blue Lifestyle Minute.” It has been on the air in New York since 1978 and came to Los Angeles 10 years ago.

Most listeners in either city probably have no idea that this award-winning program originates from his home studio on Amalfi Drive in Pacific Palisades.

Radio is only one of the several national media that engage the talents of Blue. He edits three magazines, stages three annual international wine and spirits tastings, and has written nine books.

The Riviera has been Blue’s home for 20 years. He moved from San Francisco with his wife to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

Besides, the Palisades is “clearly the best place to live in LA,” he said during a recent visit to his home.

A relaxed and friendly demeanor conceals very well his restless energy and deep expertise. His studio is lined with bookshelves and more than 100 bottles of wine, awaiting the daily tasting that he does at his desk for one or another of his magazines.

Blue’s career began in public relations at the New York firm Young and Rubicam in the 1960s. The environment there “absolutely” resembled a set from the AMC television series “Mad Men.”

“It could have been filmed in those offices,” he said.

A lifelong interest in wine hummed along in the background. After a brief stint as a music and stage promoter, Blue moved to San Francisco in 1978, where he became wine and spirits editor at Bon Apetit magazine.

This position, which he held for 26 years, became the launch pad for a host of other endeavors. He founded the annual San Francisco International Wine Competition in 1980. Now America’s largest event of this kind, it will have more than 4,000 entries this November—all assessed by a panel of 40 judges that he appoints and supervises.

In today’s wine realm, Blue said he sees many trends cresting, among them rosé and blended reds. Two magazines that he edits, The Tasting Panel and The Somm Journal, are widely distributed among beverage industry insiders who need to keep up with the latest.

The current issue of Tasting Panel takes up some creative winemakers in Washington state, a look back at 50-year lifespan of California’s Fetzer winery, and a recap of the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival in Hawaii.

Blue also founded the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2000, and paired it with a New York version earlier this year. With all of his experience in tasting spirits, what does he see as the most interesting drink these days?

“Mezcal,” he shared without hesitation. That Mexican beverage has fewer legal restrictions than its sister spirit tequila, so distillers can be more creative.

“Mezcal today tastes the way tequila used to taste,” he said, before the international market made its homogenizing inroads.

As our conversation concludes, Blue’s assistant is setting up the next blind tasting, as he parses magazine articles and sorts through entries in the upcoming San Francisco wine competition.

Any of these could figure in his next radio broadcast, so stay tuned.