Forget all the snobby things you’ve heard about wine, the point is to enjoy it, says Mark Oldman, who recommends five ways to confound the critics and start sipping.
Let the pinkie-extenders fetishize wine with their three-figure bottles and hidebound rules. In my new book, Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine, I aim to empower readers with the confidence to enjoy wine with a sense of fun, adventure, and affordability. Here are five ways to “drink bravely”:
Often overlooked by the Sotheby’s set, Sparkling Shiraz—a bubbly red affectionately given the vaguely off-color nickname “spurgle” by the Ozzies—is an agent of berry fun and cleansing fizz. At about $15 a bottle, it is a cost-effective way of captivating party guests and intriguing connoisseurs.
Drink Within the Box
Despite its reputation as the vinous equivalent of a beer helmet, box wine is gaining new respect. Labels such as Black Box, From the Tank, Bota Box, and Wine Cube are using boxes for juice that is perfectly respectable for casual drinking. Not only do these bespiggoted contraptions preserve wine for up to a month, but they are more eco-friendly than glass and are the equivalent of a wallet-preserving $5 a bottle.
Let the lackeys continue to shun Sideways-satirized Merlot. Choose carefully and this soft, plummy varietal can enthrall like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon. Cast your eyes to Washington State—including versions from Hogue, L’Ecole No. 41, and Januik—to maximize Merlot’s potential for both elegance and power.
Ice Can Be Nice
To some it may seem the wine version of nails on a chalkboard, but adding an ice cube to a glass of everyday red wine—for five to 10 seconds, that is—is a perfectly acceptable way of making it taste less alcoholic and more refreshing.
Do the PHBR
On your next vacation, fight the injustice of hotel mini-bar markups by executing a PHBR, or Pre Hotel Bubbly Run. Before you reach your hotel, buy a bottle of Prosecco, Cava, or American Sparkling Wine—all affordable and commonly available even at highway convenience stories. Get one bottle for every day of your holiday, and clear out your mini-fridge for them. Mark shows you exactly how to execute the PBHR here.
Mark Oldman is the author of Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine, a wine writer for Everyday with Rachael Ray, and a renowned speaker at such venues as the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. He lives in New York City.