‘Americans need wine, food and spirits recommendations.’ This sentiment was part of the inspiration behind Andy Dias Blue’s amazing career. From serving as the wine & spirits editor of Bon Appétit Magazine for 26 years, to writing nine food/wine/spirits books, and launching the two largest wine and spirits competitions in the world, Andy was always a larger than life figure with a lust for life, fun, travel, eating and drinking.
“My dad, Andy, made a successful career out of doing what most people do on vacation – eating and drinking,” said Amanda Blue, Andy’s youngest daughter and President and COO of the Tasting Alliance, an organization started by Andy that includes six wine, beer, and spirits competitions around the world.
With his passing on Christmas Day of 2023, he left many mourning friends and family members, but also incredible inspiration for a life well-lived and a career that spanned six decades.
Inspiration #1 – Follow Your Career Bliss
Born in New York in 1941, Andy enjoyed multiple career paths throughout his life, and was never afraid to move in a new direction if the opportunity and the excitement beckoned. He started off in advertising, before moving onto theater production where he launched two one-act plays. This led to personal management, where he and his partner, Eli Ask, represented clients like Caryl Simon and Jackie Cassen.
But his love of writing, food and drink eventually compelled him to the publishing industry. He started as the Food & Wine Editor of Diversion magazine, before moving to Food & Wine magazine, where he was transferred from New York to San Francisco. At chance meeting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival with the Food Editor of Bon Appétit, led to 26 years there writing about wine, spirits, and cuisine.
Not content to write only for other publications, Andy partnered with Meredith May to found The Tasting Panel magazine, and later they also acquired the Somm Journal.
In 1980, he was asked to run the San Francisco Wine Competition, by the State of California. Several years before he passed, he had grown it into the largest international wine competition in the U.S., with more than 4,000 wines entered and reviewed by 2019. In addition, he also created several other competitions, including the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a which he expanded to New York and Singapore, and most recently he added a beer competition.
Other career diversions included being the color commentator on “Iron Chef U. S. A.”, hosting a weekly TV show on CNBC entitled “Liquid Assets,” and serving as a frequent host on QVC
“Until I started working with my dad , I had no idea what a revered legend he was in the wine and spirits industry. To me he had always been just a great dad with impregnable taste in food and wine,” said Amanda Blue.
Inspiration #2 – Enjoy Wine & Food Pairings at All Price Points
Though many wine critics focus only on the high-end of the market, Andy Blue believed in helping Americans find delicious wines at all price points, and to create wine, food, and spirits pairings that ranged from Michelin star cuisine to take-out food.
“My job, as I see it, is to grow the market for wines and spirits. The more people who enjoy these wonderful products, the more pleasure there will be in the world,” Andy reported.
His wine reviews and communication efforts helped many small family wineries around the world achieve recognition for their wines regardless of their price points. Andy was especially known for assisting the $15 chardonnay market to become popular.
According to close friend, Tim McDonald, President of Wine & Spirits Spoken Here, in an email interview, “Andy championed the wines that were affordable by writing about them. So whether Bon Appetit magazine, Bay area newspapers, radio shows or books, Andy authored on drinks for every occasion.”
Inspiration #3 – Always Support Friends & Family
There is a saying that good friends and a loving family are worth more than all of the money in the world, and if this is true, then Andy Dias Blue passed away as a billionaire. This is because he was much revered by thousands of chefs, sommeliers, wine judges, critics, publishers, bar and restaurant servers, his team of employees, and especially his family. Because of this many friends and family shared inspiring tributes via email:
“Andy’s passion for sharing his knowledge with the world was a huge inspiration, and a spark for me to do the same. I hope to one day leave a fraction of the legacy that he leaves with the world,” wrote Jeffrey Morgenthaler, a good friend and co-owner of Pacific Standard and The Sunset Room, in Portland, Oregon.
Eduardo Dingler, VP of Wine at Wine Access, shared, “Andy was built with a different cloth, the kind that is rarely seen this days. A raconteur, a renaissance man that exemplified ‘joie de vivre’ at all times. He lived life on his terms, one delicious bite and sip at a time. Professionally, Andy paved the way for many of us that took inspiration from his work in many realms.”
“Andy was larger than life, but he didn’t wear his accomplishments on his sleeve. He mentored and worked on getting to know people before ever talking business,” said Fred Minnick, TV Host & Author.
Tim McDonald added, “Sad still…, so many memories I have to cherish. He was a keynote speaker on many occasions where good food, wine and spirits were involved. Thank you Anthony Dias Blue for your wisdom, humor, and guidance.”
Andy was married to Kathryn Koshland for over 50 years, and together they had four children and nine grandchildren. “My father was such an inspiration to so many, and being able to work alongside him for the past six years, and see how many lives in the industry he has effected is one of the greatest gifts,” concluded Amanda Blue.
Authors Note: I was one of the hundreds of wine judges that Andy recruited for the San Francisco International Wine Competition. He had a custom of taking new judges out to dinner, and so along with five other “newbies” we joined Andy in a taxi and headed to the dark streets of the Tenderloin. There Andy introduced us to a new “very casual” Asian restaurant with some of the best Korean cuisine I have ever tasted – paired with rieslings, cabernet francs, and beer. Later that night he took us all to a high-end bar to finish the night with a single malt scotch and a large belly laugh. He was truly larger than life! I was honored to know him.