Ed McCarthy RIP

Ed McCarthy was an unassuming gentle man, who I was lucky enough to get to know through Wine Media Guild. A noted writer, he was gifted at taking relatively complex subjects and distilling and simplifying them.

Those of us who were lucky enough to have participated in his annual
Champagne event were enthralled by his knowledge and descriptions. With so much knowledge, and such a gentle way of disseminating it, he is a major loss to our community.

Here is his obituary

“ Edward V. McCarthy, 87, of Manhattan, NY, passed away from cancer on May 2, 2024, while in hospice at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. A renowned figure in the wine world, Ed’s contributions spanned several decades and touched the lives of countless wine enthusiasts.

Ed was a well-known and respected wine educator, writer, and critic, notably recognized for his expertise in Champagne and other sparkling wines. He was an instructor at International Wine Center in New York City for almost a decade. Still, he is perhaps best known as the author of “Champagne For Dummies” and the co-author with his wife of 40 years, Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan, of “Wine For Dummies,” a part of the popular “For Dummies” series.

The “Wine For Dummies” book (in its seventh edition) and its various spin-offs, including “Red Wine For Dummies,” “White Wine For Dummies,” “California Wine For Dummies,” “Italian Wine For Dummies,” and “French Wine For Dummies,” have helped millions of readers understand and appreciate wine.

Ed’s accessible and engaging writing style, combined with his practical advice on wine selection and appreciation, made his books and other writings a staple for both newcomers and seasoned wine lovers. He was a prolific writer for various wine publications and a sought-after speaker who contributed significantly to wine education through his articles and engagements.

A New Yorker through and through, Ed was born in Manhattan and raised in Manhattan and Queens. He earned a master’s degree in psychology from the City University of New York and then taught English at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn for decades before devoting himself more fully to the world of wine in his fifties. Working part-time in a wine shop early in his career, Ed nurtured a passion for wines, amassing a remarkable collection in the thousands, particularly noted for its Bordeaux, Barolo, and, of course, Champagne.

In the summer of 1981, Ed met his future wife, Mary Ewing-Mulligan, at a group wine dinner in Chinatown hosted by a mutual acquaintance with the goal of matching Italian white wines with Chinese food – an idea that both Ed and Mary thought was preposterous at the time. Unable to truly connect at what was a very large table, the two intentionally attended another wine tasting – each knowing the other would be there - at the home of a mutual friend where they finally had a chance to talk. Their first official date occurred at The Gramercy Park Hotel at a champagne tasting where Mary spilled a glass of Bollinger La Grande Année (the agreed upon best wine of the night) in Ed’s lap. He was smitten. Ed and Mary wed in the summer of 1983 in New York City, and staying on theme, they visited wine regions in France and Italy on their honeymoon.

In 1984, Mary began as the director of education of the fledgling wine school, International Wine Center. Ed soon saw this as an opportunity to combine his two passions, wine and education, and joined Mary at IWC as an adjunct instructor until the mid-nineties. In 1995, Ed and Mary were enlisted by IDG Books Worldwide to write “Wine For Dummies,” the first non-business book extension in the “For Dummies” series. An instant classic, “Wine For Dummies” today remains one of the top-selling books in the “For Dummies” series with seven editions translated into 38 languages and more than one million copies sold globally. Ed’s passion for Champagne and his reputation as one of the country’s foremost authorities on the subject led him to author “Champagne For Dummies” in 2000. Unsurprisingly, Ed’s birthday fell on World Champagne Day, December 31.

Ed’s legacy will live on through his written work and the many lives he enriched through his teaching and writing. He is survived by his wife Mary-Ewing-Mulligan, MW; his children Elise McCarthy of Manalapan, NJ; Edward John (EJ) McCarthy and wife Kim of Bradenton, FL; Lucinda Tomarchio and her husband David of East Windsor, NJ; and his three grandchildren Jason and Michael Tomarchio, and Juliana McCarthy.”

Wine for Dummies was one of the first wine books I ever bought. I laughed out loud at a line in the Champagne/Sparkling Wine chapter: “We feel sorry for those who have never tasted Krug. We feel worse for those who have” followed by a brief discussion about Krug’s greatness (this was in the 1990s when Krug was THE BIG DEAL) and cost. Of course that cost was so much less then…


I met Ed several years ago when he was visiting Napa Valley. I was pouring our wines at a small tasting room on the Silverado Trail and he walked in. I had no clue who he was. We spent about an hour or so tasting the wines and just having a chat. He loved how our wines were more old world in style, at a time when those big fruit forward cabs were just gaining traction. He sent me an article he wrote and it was only then that I figured out who he was. Just a down to earth, really nice man with a wealth of wine knowledge. RIP Ed.

Sorry to hear … but glad Ed got a mention here.
I have fond memories of him sitting with Mary Ewing-Mulligan leading an International Wine Center tasting.
We could always count on Ed for some wry and subtle humor in addition to his astute observations about the wines being tasted.
That is my experience of him though clearly he had a robust wine career well beyond the Wine Center.