WHO HE? That’s what founding editor Harold Ross would scribble beside unfamiliar names in The New Yorker’s galleys. So who Bill Marsano?

Bill Marsano - photo by Maury EnglanderBill Marsano – photo by Maury Englander

Until early 2009 the long-time Wine and Spirits Editor of United Airlines’ Hemispheres, Bill Marsano has won a James Beard medal and a handful of other awards for his writing on wine, spirits and travel in Hemispheres, Condé Nast Traveler and “a host,” as they say, other titles. He is that rarest and proudest of birds, the New Yorker native-born, but he travels to Italy whenever he can get away with it and is plotting to when he can’t. He is then accompanied by his Feathercraft folding kayak, which he launches with abandon on the likes of Venice’s Grand Canal, Cognac’s Charente, Tuscany’s Arno and the Ligurian Sea off the Cinque Terre. A colleague has (too) generously called him “one of the wine scene’s most insightful observers” but he himself admits only to being “a crank with some bizarre opinions and a weakness for word-play” (e.g., “Men seldom makes passes at girls without glassware.”).