Asimov was born in Bethpage, New York. He is the son of Stanley Asimov, former vice president for editorial administration at Newsday, and Ruth Asimov, a ceramic artist. He is a nephew of the late author Isaac Asimov.
Asimov attended Wesleyan University, graduating in 1980. He did graduate work in American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Asimov married fellow Wesleyan graduate Jackalyn Lee in 1989; the couple later divorced. Asimov has been married to Deborah Hofmann, editor of the New York Times Best Seller List since 2001.
The New York Times
Having previously worked for The Chicago Sun-Times, Eric Asimov began working for The New York Times in 1984, as an editor in National News. From 1991 to 1994, he was the editor of the Living Section and, from 1994 to 1995, he edited the Styles of The Times section.
In 1992, Asimov conceived and wrote the "$25 and Under" column, dedicated to "restaurants where people can eat lavishly for $25 and under. For that price, you should be able to get a complete meal: appetizer, main course, and dessert. Beverages, tax, and tip are not included in the calculation." After several years of penning the column, however, the term "$25 and under" became less literal and more suggestive of inexpensive. Until 1997, the column appeared in the Weekend Section. It then moved to Wednesdays in the "Dining In, Dining Out" section. The popularity of his reviews and articles led to Asimov's yearly compilation books of the $25 and Under columns, published from 1995 to 1998 by HarperCollins.
From 2000 to 2004, Eric Asimov co-authored the annual New York Times Guide to Restaurants in New York City with Ruth Reichl and William Grimes.
Asimov was given the new position of Chief Wine Critic of The New York Times in 2004, and the "$25 and Under" column was assigned to other critics while Frank J. Prial, the paper's wine critic for over 30 years, continued his "Wine Talk" column until retirement in 2005.
Asimov had been writing about wine since 1999. As Chief Wine Critic, he writes two columns, "The Pour" and "Wines of the Times" (or, as it may be, "Beers of the Times"), both of which appear in the paper on an alternating bi-weekly schedule. In March 2006, Asimov began writing a wine blog, also titled "The Pour".
Asimov has also done freelance work for other publications, including Food & Wine Magazine, Details, Martha Stewart Living and Sommelier Journal.
Between 1999 and 2004, Asimov had a daily spot on the New York Times-owned radio station WQXR for which he critiqued food and wine. Since becoming Chief Wine Critic in 2004, he reduced his time on WQXR to a weekly spot on wine.