Holiday Wine Picks, Even for Cat Video Obsessives

Holiday wine gifts, even for cat video obsessives

wine gifts

Stumped about what ‪‎wine gifts to give the cat video obsessive in your life? Check out my new wine gift guide.  With purr-fect selections from Chateau Rieussec, Pedernales Cellars, Four Vines, Domaine Chandon, Donnas, Snoqualmie, Vina Cobos, Mollydooker, and the Madeira Wine Company. Wine gifts for cat lovers – who knew it could be so easy!

“Feline Felicity” photograph courtesy of Georgia Mauvais-Jarvis.

South Beach: Sumptuous Solar Vortex, spooning wine, cheating hours, Apron’s 11, Nerd Nation

South Beach: Sumptuous Solar Vortex

If you’ve had your fill of polar vortexes and tarry slush, point your GPS in the direction of Miami’s South Beach for the Food Network South Beach Food & Wine Festival, starting tomorrow.  This year’s line-up once again has more color than a Creuset catalog, its glistening gumbo featuring Rachael Ray, José Andrés, Josh Wesson, Masaharu Morimoto, Martha Stewart, Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, among many others.

south beach

Decadence is on the menu at my two South Beach seminars.  The first, “Fried & True: A Fried Chicken Seminar,” I’m presenting with legendary festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager and acclaimed food writer Adeena Sussman.  Its mouthwatering menu is based on recipes from Lee and Adeena’s new book, Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.

My other appearance is “Sparkling Sweets: An Ice Cream and Champagne Pairing Seminar” with ice cream maven and author Jeni Britton of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  If the title doesn’t make you woozy with want, take a gander at Jeni’s tour de force menu for the South Beach fest:
Passion Fruit Sorbet/Lychee Sorbet
Apricot Sorbet/Chamomile Ice Cream
Whole Milk Yogurt/ Estate Vanilla Bean/Cloverton with Buttery Graham Gravel
Salty Caramel/Salty Goat’s Milk Chocolate/Hazelnut
Bitter Askinosie/ Chocolate and Dark Chocolate

Austin: No Longer a Crosswalk Criminal

With last year’s arrest warrant for jaywalking finally dismissed, I am now free to return to this year’s Austin FOOD & WINE Festival with unfettered mind, palate, and ankle.  Despite the warrant’s warning that “over 240 law enforcement agencies across Texas” were searching for me, the festival rocked harder than Belushi on “Jailhouse Rock”.

Kind reviews were issued by Bacchus and Beery, the Austin Eavesdropper, and Wes Marshall of the Austin Chronicle.

This year’s Austin festival promises to be equally engaging.  Learn more here.

The infamous warrant as well as commemorative t-shirts raffled off to attendees.

In Austin I’ll sign (almost) any body part.

Aspen: Gaucho Marks

Well before Carlos Danger lived down to our rock-bottom expectations of the modern politician, there was a similar sounding but better intentioned Latin-flavored figure: Gaucho Marks.  This was my persona at last year’s Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic, my eighth-straight year presenting at this snow-tipped Strativarious of culinary experience.   True to my new identity, I taught “Argentina’s Top Malbecs,” as well as “Superstar Wine Values”   The wines, listed below, were all carefully selected by my Aspen panel:

Argentina’s Top Malbecs
1. Finca Las Nubes Rosé of Malbec
2. Luiga Bosca Malbec
3. Achával-Ferrer Malbec Finca Bella Vista
4. Alta Vista Malbec Luján de Cuyo Serenade
5. Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino
6. Val de Flores

Superstar Wine Values
1. Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace Réserve
2. Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini
3. Alamos Torrontés Salta
4. Prunotto Barbera d’Asti Fiulot
5. Tormaresca Puglia Nèprica
6. Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill Monastrell Alicante

This June I return to the Aspen Classic with two brand-new seminars: “Wine for IPO Millionaires” and “Sonoma Pinot Noir”.  Learn more about this year’s Classic here.

In the meantime, watch genConnect interview Gaucho Marks:

Mark Oldman At The 31st Food & Wine Classic | genConnect

Watch the Video

Cheating Hours

“Apron’s 11”:  with Boulud, Colicchio, Dhalfors, Dufresne, Galloni, and Greico.
During last year’s Aspen festival, I had the chance to chat with Daniel Boulud, who clued me into a memorable french idiom.  It seems that he had just filmed a cameo for a film called “5 à 7,” a title derived from the French expression for the time of day that one would cheat on a spouse.  It is remarkable, I thought, that the French are so tolerant of infidelity that they have allotted hours for it, even if the expression is somewhat in jest.  Had French President François Hollande simply followed tradition, rather than cavorting at all hours on his scooter, he might not have found himself in such deep merde.

Brave Drinking with Auction Winners

A few months ago I hosted a group of six auction winners who had bid generously for a wine tasting at my place through a Charitybuzz auction benefiting Food & Wine’s Grow for Good campaign and the Wholesome Wave Foundation.  Determined to pull out all of the stops, I enlisted bottles from my personal collection that would maximize our chances of drinking bravely.  The line-up spanned the world (New York, California, France, Italy and Hungary), wine types (bubbly, white, red, and dessert), bottle sizes (half-bottle to two 3-liters), blue chips (Patz & Hall) to cult wine (Scholium Project and Le Pergole Torte), recent releases to the delightfully mature (a 2005 Beaujolais cru Morgan in magnum), and finally a bottle I had acquired from Bernie Madoff’s actual stash (through the 2011 Morrell & Co. auction that benefited the victims of this odious scoundrel).  Along with the wine, we nibbled various fine cheeses, salumi, and bread from nearby Eataly.

Nerd Nation

In October I was invited to teach wine to Stanford University’s senior class, a terrifically bright and generous group.  The senior class presidents presented me with a coveted “Nerd Nation” t-shirt, which I shall treasure.On the subject of Nerd Nation, I did a video this January from the 100th Rose Bowl to discuss the wine equivalent of that name:

Wine for a Nerd Nation – Episode 79 – Drink Bravely w/ Mark Oldman (Stanford & Jura at Rose Bowl)

Watch the Video


Word is getting out about Coravin, the device that allows one to taste wine without pulling the cork.  According to last week’s Wall Street Journal, the Peninsula New York Hotel is going as far as making its entire list available to taste through Coravin.  Here I demonstrate Coravin on the day of its launch:

How to Taste A Wine Without Pulling the Cork (Coravin) – Episode 75 – Drink Bravely with Mark Oldman

Watch the Video

Last Drops

Glass Christmas tree.

Romance on Valentine’s Day: have you spooned your wine?

Secrets (and Key Wines) For a Smash Hit Oscars Party

Austin FOOD & WINE Festival Q&A with Mark

Are you just as excited as we are to see which films take home Oscar gold during tomororw’s Academy Awards? Maybe you’ve planned a party with friends to celebrate the cinematic evening? No matter your viewing preference, we’ve recruited wine expert Mark Oldman to share his 2013 Academy Awards Wine Guide. What does that mean? He compares each of his top picks for Best Picture to a certain wine and points you in the direction of a specific bottle.

So, whether you’re rooting for a certain film or just looking to set the stage for your get-together, sit back and enjoy Mark Oldman’s drinkable guide to the Oscars. And because who doesn’t enjoy a delicious appetizer alongside their red, white or bubbly — he shares an hors d’oeuvre secret that’s sure to impress any guest.

AFWF: You have an admitted interest in how wines have played a role in notable movies throughout history. With that in mind – and given the fact that it’s Oscar Week – how would you compare your favorite films nominated for Best Picture to certain wines?


Argo: Champagne

This Affleckian flick deserves association with Champagne for its depiction of international intrigue leavened with displays of over-the-top, Hollywood-style glamour— a combination that Champagne and its attendant lifestyle have long manifested. Note that it is only when the characters have departed Iranian airspace – and the flight attendants then announce that alcohol consumption is no longer illegal – that they are truly safe andproceed to pop a celebratory bottle of Moët.

Recommended: Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV ($38)


Django Unchained: Shiraz from Australia

Like Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Australian Shiraz arrives on the scene with guns-a-blaze, exciting and extravagant in its richness and range of plum-and-mocha-inflected flavors.

Recommended: Paringa Shiraz 2010 ($10)


Lincoln: Cabernet Sauvignon from California

Like the 16th U.S. President himself, classic versions of this wine show depth (typically black currants, smoky oak, and moderate tannins), history (being California’s longstanding showpiece red), dignity, and complexity.

Recommended: Beringer Knights Valley 2009 ($30)


Silver Linings Playbook: Dolcetto d’Alba from Italy

Like this edgy-but-charming Bradley Cooper tour de force, good versions of Dolcetto (a tangy, medium-bodied red) can be a bit bitter upfront but ultimately finish with lip-smacking exuberance.  

Recommended: Ceretto Dolcetto d’Alba Rossana 2010 ($28)



Beasts of the Southern Wild: Wine from Red Hook Winery

With this movie depiction’s of a tiny hero desperate to save her ill father and sinking home, we find parallels in the brave plight of Brooklyn’s Red Hook Winery, which was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy and has been fighting to recover ever since. 

Recommended: Any bottle listed here.


Amour: That Special Bottle You Haven’t Opened Yet

As the film reminds us how love can be tested and how beauty can fade before our eyes, we must apply these lessons to our own lives and open that special bottle now. You and I have already waited too long.

Recommended: Any special occasional bottle you have on hand.


AFWF: Given your “unpretentious over-delivery of pleasure” approach to at-home entertaining, what would be your key ingredient to an at-home Oscars soiree?

My English friends Sarah and Marcus Oliver have mastered the art of the Oscar party, and one secret of their success is that they ask people to dress up. Having everyone gathered in red carpet garb creates ebullience in the room and adds to the vicarious pleasure of the evening.

To keep things from getting too formal, however, they offset all of the fancy dress with the most humble, toothsome treats that you’ve ever laid your lips to: crispy, glazed English mini-sausages. These links are so coveted by guests that the party’s invitation now carries the assurance: “Yes, there will be mini-sausages.” In a recent email exchange, I persuaded Sarah to reveal more about how she and Marcus prepare these luscious logs of love:


  1. If possible, use the fresh sausage called chipolata; it can be sourced from the British grocery store Myers of Keswick
  2. Roll the meat so that each sausage is just about an inch in length
  3. Glaze each link with a mixture of honey and mustard
  4. Broil the sausages they are “really brown and sticky”
  5. Serve with a good Prosecco

AFWF: Are you especially rooting for any contender (in any category) in particular?

For me, Zero Dark Thirty was unforgettably arresting, sending me into the night with surging adrenaline and in desperate need of a Blackhawk to board. I found Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of the relentlessly driven Maya particularly memorable. The moment Maya tells the CIA Director, “ I’m the motherf—– that found this place, sir,” Chastain won my vote for Best Actress.

AFWF: Lastly, what can Festival-goers expect to learn from your “Cinema Vino: Wines from the Movies” demo at the 2013 AFWF?

Like with all of my appearances, I aim to make this demo uncommonly illuminating and humorous – and, as an editor at Food & Wine magazine once described of my seminars,“like one big party.”

Reefer madness, Summer wine picks, Parlotones, Jay-walking, Austin, Aspen

In this interview with Austinist, I reveal some of my latest wine
picks and how both wine and my previous business interests stem from my
penchant for providing cool cats like YOU with succinct, penetrating
information on difficult-to-master subjects.

Why I Do What I Do – Austinist interview


Key South African Exports


video: Wine and The Parlotones

Reefer Madness in Austin


Speaking of Austin, the first Austin Food & Wine Festival was hot, both
figuratively, the event offering a Roman candle of epicurean delight,
and literally, as temperatures elevated into the triple digits. It got
so hot that between my seminars the festival folks had to cool me down
like an overheated barn bull – in a so-called “reefer” (i.e.,
refrigerated) truck. In there it was dark and cool and filled with
crates of wine, the perfect place to do this impromptu
interview with Wes Marshall of the Austin Chronicle.

If you’ve been to my seminars before, you know that I carefully choose
the wines for maximum deliciousness, and Austin was no exception. Here
they are, for your summer drinking pleasure:

Pink Without Blushing (Rosé)
-Perrier-Jouet Brut Rosé Champagne Blason de France NV (France,
-Belle Glos Pinot Noir Blanc 2011 (California)
-Château d’Aquéria Tavel (France)
-Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare Central Coast 2011 (California)
-Planeta Rosé of Syrah 2011 (Italy)
-Chateau D’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé Whispering Angel 2010

Sparkling Substitutes
-Mionetto Prosecco Il Brut NV (Italy)
-Schramsberg Brut Blanc de Blancs North Coast 2008 (California)
-Mont-Marcal Cava Brut Reserva 07 (Spain)
-Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace NV (France)
-J Brut Rosé Russian River Valley NV (California)
-Bleasdale Sparkling Shiraz “The Red Brute” NV (Australia)

Finally, it can be told: I was indeed cited for jaywalking after I
crossed an empty side street in downtown Austin. It was a six-second,
straight-line, afternoon amble from a sandwich shop to my rental car.
The bicycle cops were reasonably friendly about it, informing me that
Austin has started cracking down on pedestrian perps, as
this article confirms.



A much less expensive way to Jay-walk, if you will, is to check out Jay
McInerney’s latest compilation of vinous essays, The Juice:
Vinous Veritas
. When he’s not penning best-selling novels, Mr.
McInerney writes about the grape with a poet’s eye and a hedonist’s

Joy(ful) Division: 8 Under $16


My summer picks for Jordan Blumberg at Daily Candy; get ’em while they’re cold.

Mountainous Excitement


If you know anyone involved with the Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic, you
know that we are positively brimming with excitement over this year’s
festival. Later this week will begin the 30th administration of this
Fantasy Island of Gastronomy, which was how I described it last
year. This year promises to be a classic among Classics, with a king’s
ransom of chef and wine talent and a special performance by Elvis
Costello. I’ll be appearing four times, so if you’re going to be on
the mountain, please join me for some of the bravest drinking west of
the Mississippi.

The Last Drop


(image from