Mark Oldman’s exuberant ebullient book aims to lead wine drinkers from their comfort zone and explore some less familiar wines that offer good value and great tasting experiences.
His language thumps like a happy puppy’s wagging tail with references to popular media and made up trade-marked phrases such as ‘drink bravely’ and ‘poosh it’ (no, me neither).
Each recommended wine gets between 1 and 2 pages of enthusiastic description followed by 2 - 3 pages of quotes from actors, musicians and restaurateurs and an information sheet containing a price/adventurous chart and facts on how to pronounce names, similar wines, food matches and more.
Oldman suggests unusual varietals such as Txakoli, Aglianico, Moshofilero, Torrontes and Albarino.
But he then hits a big problem. There are thousands of wine grape varieties growing around the world and many are excellent. But his aim is to help people step out of their wine comfort zone and buy something different to their usual drink. So the wines he recommends have to be available on the shelves of American shops. And that would make a very short book.
So the ‘usual suspects’ including Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne and Chardonnay are all included along with many other wines that I think most wine drinkers would know. His approach is to find some other angle that makes some difference to these familiar varieties. Such as if you ordinarily buy Sauvignon Blanc, he recommends trying those from New Zealand, choose Pinot Noir from Oregon. And instead of your usual Merlot, get ‘good’ Merlot.
Such is his attention grabbing writing style that such flim-flam goes under one's radar at the time as he tells how he smuggles wine into cinemas by decanting into an empty Sprite bottle whose coloured plastic hides the contents, or using hotel fridges to store bottles of inexpensive American sparkling wine. Incidentally he doesn’t use the ‘C’ word for them but has coined the useful ‘Federal Fizz’.
I am thoroughly behind him in his task to encourage American wine drinkers to broaden their horizons and it is a shame there appears so few unusual wines available.
Production of this book is superb: it is a large format paperback with good quality paper with text printed in warm brown and blue.
Would make a great gift for new wine drinkers. But note it is aimed at the younger set and definitely of most interest to those living in the United States.
(The ‘C’ word is Champagne. Only sparkling wines from Champagne, France are entitled to that name.)
Oldman's Brave New World of Wine: Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine's Usual Suspects
By: Mark Oldman
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 6, 2010)
Disclosure: The author received a review copy of this book
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.
Oldman's Brave New World of Wine
Mark Oldman’s exuberant ebullient book encourages wine drinkers to explore familiar wines that offer good value and great tasting experiences.
His language thumps like a puppy with wagging tail with references to popular media and made up trade-marked phrases such as ‘drink bravely’ and ‘poosh it'.
A wine detective story. Come with me as I try to find out the truth behind South Africa's own variety.