Issue: July 2012
July 03, 2012
3 min read

Orthopedists passion for research leads to hobby as wine critic for newspaper

Issue: July 2012
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said, “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf.”

This viewpoint is shared with Robert Stein, MD, who married his love of orthopedics to his affinity of good wine paired with good company.

“To me, the greatest pleasure is sharing the wine,” Stein told Orthopedics Today. “Not fondling the bottles in the wine cellar, but bringing them out, opening them up and sharing them with friends. To me, that is the great joy.”

Stein’s great joy was realized when he was an intern at Albert Einstein Medical Center in New York. He had just met his future wife.

“Since I was on a [36-hour shift] and off at 12 [midnight], we were not running around town much,” he said. “So, it was her making dinner, and what am I contributing? Fortunately, there was a wine shop right around the corner and I would stop off for a bottle of wine and bring that for dinner.”

Rob Stein 

Robert Stein, MD, writes a column on wine for The Tennessean.

Image: Stein R

The collector and the orthopedist

Before he knew it, Stein became a collector. He purchased Bordeaux futures in 1968. Throughout his residency at Duke University, he attended a wine-tasting group.

Stein credits his vast knowledge of wine to his research skills.

“The same academism I apply to orthopedics, I apply to wine,” he said. “I do that in terms of collecting, learning and trying new grapes and new wines. One day, you turn around and realize you know a fair amount about the subject.”

The writer

One night, Stein and his wife had dinner with a friend who was the associate editor of The Tennessean. She knew Stein was interested in wine and was searching for a new wine writer to freshen up the column, Stein said.

“She asked did I know anyone, knowing full well that was like dragging a red cape in front of a bull,” he said.

Stein has been writing for The Tennessean for almost 2 years. Although he enjoys getting reader feedback, he most enjoys comments from his patients who have read his wine column. After explaining total knee replacement and informed consent, Stein said some patients will respond in the manner of, “We are finished now, right? Listen, we have this bottle of wine in the closet that we are wondering if we should open or not.”

“I get feedback from my patients like that, and it is always enjoyable,” he said.

Summer recommendations

For the summer months, Stein recommends lighter wines like Rosés from the southern Rhone area of Provence in France or from Spain.

“Rosés are good year round, but especially during the summer when you are thinking of lighter fare, picnics, pools and lakes. Rosés are often available for under $20. Whites are also great for summer enjoyment. Branch out to enjoy wines made from different grapes such as Torontes, Albariño and Verdejo.

“They are usually priced in the teens and represent terrific value.”

For affordable reds, Stein falls back on those from Spain, Portugal and Argentina. These wines are often made from varietal grapes such as syrah, Grenache, malbec or a mix of Portuguese native grapes.

Points for pairing

When asked how to pair wine with food, Stein says the most important thing is not to get “caught up in having to have the perfect match.”

“Frankly, I like to open up a bottle of wine that I enjoy drinking,” he said. “If I enjoy the wine, chances are I am going to enjoy the food as well. It is not that I do not try and match, but I do not get too caught up in that. I think some people over blow feeling the need to make the perfect match.

There are some simple rules for pairing wine with foods, he said.

“Match power with power” or “cut power,” Stein said. He compared pairing to the game of rock, paper and scissors. Try to match red meat with a “bigger, bolder, more powerful wine like a Cabernet or a Syrah,” he said. When dining on spicy fare such as Indian or Thai food, Stein recommends cutting the power with a lighter, fruitier white wine such as Champagne, Riesling, Rosé or Gewürztraminer. Cabernet could go with steak and Syrah with lamb, he said.

Stein is not certain where his passion for wine will take him.

“Right now, it is just an enjoyable side light to a hobby or an expansion of an underlying hobby that I continue to enjoy,” he said. – by Renee Blisard Buddle

For more information:
  • Robert Stein, MD, can be reached at Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance, 301 21st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37203; email:
  • Stein has no relevant financial disclosures.