Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine’s Usual Suspects
“Mark Oldman is the ideal mix of wine connoisseur, showman, and everyday dude.”
Mark Oldman is the wine-obsessed best friend—wildly passionate, decidedly unsnobby, and forever eager to share his favorite new finds—we all wish we had. Now, in his irresistible new book OLDMAN’S BRAVE NEW WORLD OF WINE [W. W. Norton & Company; September 2010; $19.95 paperback], he pulls back the curtain on the wine world’s best-kept secrets: lesser-known wines of moderate cost and maximum appeal.
Why should insiders have all the fun? That’s what Mark asked himself when he saw that, despite the unprecedented selections from around the world that have made their way to our local wine stores, most shoppers resign themselves to yet another boring Chardonnay or mediocre Merlot. Meanwhile, wine experts go into ecstasies about varieties like Txakoli and Gewürztraminer—wines that intimidate the rest of us because we can’t pronounce them, don’t know what to eat with them, and can’t be sure that they’re worth the risk.
Fortunately, with “drink bravely” as his battle cry, Mark Oldman has put together a completely original and entertaining guide to the wine world’s most exciting frontiers and best values. Each chapter introduces a “brave new pour,” giving us the lowdown on what the wine tastes like, where it comes from, how to spot a good bottle, how much to pay, what wine-enthusiast celebrities have to say about it (including Tom Colicchio, Dan Aykroyd, Jodie Foster, and many, many others), and—thank goodness—how to pronounce it. Mark brings to this task his signature humor and flair, ensuring that every entry will make you laugh and make your mouth water. Consider this inspired description of the often-maligned rosé: “It is misjudged as the vinous equivalent of Mariah Carey’s hemline or Donald Trump’s hairline… [but] with better bottles, its bouquet will live up to its look, refreshing you with juicy red fruits like raspberries, cranberries, or watermelon, joined sometimes by floral essences, citrus fruits, or perhaps a whiff of minerals.”
Mark is the easily swallowed everyman of the wine world, and so you should prepare yourself for the best possible kind of sticker shock: most of his “brave new pours” cost just $15-25 a bottle, and many like Vinho Verde and Muscadet are downright steals at under $10. As if that weren’t enough to send you running to the nearest wine store or website, Mark also includes invaluable cheat sheets for each wine that are sure to inspire an unforgettable drinking experience. Here are just a few of the cheat sheets’ features:
· Not sure what to eat with your new find? Mark suggests food pairings from the same region as the wine (for example, polenta drenched in olive oil for the Italian red Aglianico) as well as less orthodox but equally delicious matches (Côtes du Rhône and hamburgers? Yes, please.) · Want to hone your sommelier skills? Mark offers ways for you to “spend the night together” with a wine and take your familiarity with it to the next level, such as staging a “taste-off” where you and your friends compare American sparkling wine and equivalent bottles of Champagne. · Fall in love with a given wine? See the “enthusiasts also like” section for similar pours, such as Lambrusco and Moscato d’Asti for Prosecco.
This book is worth its weight in gold—or perhaps aged Madeira—for experienced wine drinkers who want to spice up their repertoires, intermediates who yearn to serve up lesser-known wines that will devastate their friends, and beginners who crave a perfectly curated guide to the ever-expanding choices that line their wine stores’ shelves. Mark’s enthusiasm is nothing short of infectious, and OLDMAN’S BRAVE NEW WORLD OF WINE is sure to transport readers into the blissful vinous territory just outside of our comfort zones. In short, thanks to Mark Oldman, we will find ourselves drinking more bravely.