American entrepreneur and renowned wine critic Mark Oldman has released his new book Brave New World of Wine, published by New York-based W.W.Norton & Company. Through this book, Mark aims to inspire readers to drink bravely by introducing them to a world of pleasure, value, and adventure beyond wine's usual suspects.
In an exclusive interview, Mark Oldman has shared his thoughts about his latest publication. Here are some excerpts:
IBTimes: What is the inside story of Brave New World of Wine?
Mark Oldman: We are living 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.
Just a generation ago there wasn't much choice beyond the classics of Bordeaux, 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.
Never before in the history of fermented grape juice have there been so many tempting choices, and, accordingly, never before has there been such need for a carefully curated guide to wines that are worthwhile.
With a yearning to inspire new taste sensations and a fiercely consumerist eye, I decided to write a book dedicated to revealing this brave new world of wine.
IBTimes: Who is the book aimed at - the experienced wine connoisseur or the beginner?
Mark Oldman: The book is suitable for drinkers of all levels. Novices will find that the chapters, taken together, are meant to provide easy on-ramps into our burgeoning universe of options, furnishing just enough information for beginners to start to identify new styles that suit their tastes.
In doing so, they will realize that neither sommelier credentials nor a foreign tongue is necessary to experience the thrill of discovery and economy that comes with drinking like an insider.
For those with intermediate knowledge, this book is designed to provide more bullets for their vinous belt, illuminating new and reborn regions as well as fresh twists on certain classics.
Since aficionados also tend to limit themselves to just a handful of regions or grapes that they happened to encounter early in their wine journeys, I aim to help them shatter their vinous complacency.
The book provides escape hatches for enthusiasts caught in a Stockholm syndrome-like dependence on mainstream wine types. Those who rely solely on Pinot Grigio for summertime sipping, for example, will learn that Rueda from Spain and Vermentino from Italy are tempting alternatives.
For wine professionals, collectors, and other experts, this book is designed to fill in the gaps, reinforce the newly learned, and help choose among the stars in a constellation of worthy wine types. Even the most adventurous and knowledgeable grape-nuts have to work at staying abreast of the latest and greatest.
If you are already a black-diamond imbiber, chances are that some of the more exotic Brave New Pours, such as Sparkling Shiraz, Txakoli, or Austrian Riesling, have remained below your radar.
IBTimes: The book contains a collection of quotes from a wide mix of celebrities and chefs. What was your idea behind tapping such a diverse group?
Mark Oldman: As I personally gain inspiration from hearing about what others like to drink, I interviewed and surveyed 146 insiders and wine lovers - my 'Bravehearts '- about their vinous preferences. Peppered through the book, their insights are meant to stoke your appetite for experimentation.
My 'Bravehearts' comprise a stable of wine-passionate luminaries as diverse as the Brave New Pours themselves: rock stars and their culinary equivalent as well as actors, writers, athletes, vintners, sommeliers, importers, consultants, and others happily infected by oenophilia.
It is a prodigiously varied group of cool cats, ranging from the Metropolitan Opera's concertmaster to master rapper Busta Rhymes; from wine rhapsodic Virginia Madsen of Sideways to woman rhapsodic Antonio Banderas of Zorro; from Ariane Daguin, a legendary purveyor of high-end meat, to the carnivorously named Kevin Bacon; from acclaimed young winemakers such as Beringer's Laurie Hook to the late pioneer Robert Mondavi.
IBTimes: How is the book different from your last publication 'Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine'?
Mark Oldman: My last book focused on the basics, whereas this book is about helping enthusiasts of all levels drink like an insider.
IBTimes: How did you get into wine industry? Is there any particular story or inspiration source behind this?
Mark Oldman: The brainstorm for this book seized me a few years ago at a gathering of wine pros. Sommeliers and importers were darting back and forth, offering each other tastes with the giddy joy and competitive zeal of parents brandishing baby photos.
Bonhomie filled the room, rising out of the dozens of opened bottles before us. Glasses clinked, place mats disintegrated, and the thrill of discovery and a good buzz was reflected in the room's ratcheting din.
As I soaked up the scene at this bring-your-own-bottle gathering of wine pros, I marveled at how elated these folks were to be sharing wine discoveries with each other.
You have to taste the texture of this Oregon Pinot, said one, magnum in hand.
Can you believe this Bordeaux is only fourteen dollars? asked another.
This Grüner would sing with shellfish, remarked third.
The sheer volume of wine knowledge being exchanged, I thought, could have filled the (wine-saturated) pages of a small encyclopedia.
And then it occurred to me: why should the insiders have all the fun? It was high time to bring what they know to everyone else.
IBTimes: What is your signature variety?
Mark Oldman: I don't have a signature variety per se. In fact, if you could say I have a signature approach to wine - I aim to drink bravely.
IBTimes: Any special plans or events for Mark Oldman in the coming months?
Mark Oldman: I'm currently at France's Rhone Valley, where I'm a main judge on the second season of the PBS show 'The Winemakers'.
I'm also creating a collection of 'Drink Bravely' videos that can be viewed for free on my website www.MarkOldman.com.
I'm speaking at several gastronomic festivals around the world, including the upcoming 2011 Aspen Food & Wine Classic.