So many wine drinkers I know remain mired in a Merlot morass, falling back on the same old standards with exasperated resignation, clinging to the coastline of familiarity like anxious castaways. Who can blame them, given the sundry impediments to experimentation, from restaurants’ vertiginous markups to the fetishists who’d have you believe that wine appreciation requires a slavish devotion to ratings, florid language, and pricey gadgets? Compounding this problem is the relative opacity of wine knowledge itself, replete as it is with bedeviling pronunciations and obfuscatory terminology.
The situation is especially unfortunate knowing that we are in a golden age of wine choice, one in which an ambitious new generation of winemakers and improved winemaking technology are revitalizing forgotten grapes and revamping wine regions throughout the world. Whereas just a generation ago there wasn’t much choice beyond the classics of Bordeaux, Merlot, Burgundy, and California, now you can trot the globe from the comfort of your own dinner table, sampling a new region or grape every night of the month if you so desire. The diversity of wines and their quality and affordability has never been greater.
Now your local wine merchant or beverage superstore not only stocks mainstream pours but offers wine from nontraditional grapes such as Torrontés, Moschofilero, and Petite Sirah and from regions as far-flung as New Zealand, Portugal, and Greece. And if your neighborhood store doesn’t have exactly what you want, the Internet has made it possible to search the world’s inventory of wine and have specific bottles sent to you in time for lunch the next day.
Similarly, wine bars and wine-themed restaurants have sprouted up in every city, offering everything from Albariño to rosé to Vinho Verde on their increasingly sophisticated lists. Sommeliers and wine directors have become the new gastronomic rock stars, profiled, with Windsor knots a-bulge, in magazines and blogs, becoming almost as renowned as the chefs with whom they work.
So the mandate for my new book, Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine, crystallized: it was time to build a bridge of knowledge from the insiders to everyone else, revealing the wines that so electrify me and my fellow wine pros – opening the curtain on what I call the “Brave New Pours.” These are insider favorites from around the world that are affordable and readily attainable.
With a yearning to inspire new taste sensations and a fiercely consumerist eye, my mission, pure and simple, is to fast track you to a world of pleasure, value, and adventure beyond wine’s usual suspects, whetehr they be pinot grigio, pinot noir, or good ol’ Merlot. In a phrase, I want to inspire you to drink bravely.
Photo at top: celebrity chef, author, and restaurateur Michel Nischan – a terrific chap who really knows how to drink bravely.