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A Feast At The Bookshelf (William Widmaier’s “A Feast At The Beach”)

Vinted on February 7, 2011 binned in book reviews, wine books

It’s been months since the most recent “official” book review on the virtual pages of 1WineDude.com.  This hasn’t been due to a paucity of book samples coming my way – I’ve just sadly had little time to devote to them, because my time management skills are on par with Chad Ochocinco’s ability to stay out of the public eye.

Fortunately for me – and, I think, for many of you – William Widmaier’s A Feast At The Beach hit my mailbox.  It clocks in at less than 150 pages, with most chapters – vignettes of Widmaier’s late `60s childhood in Provence, centered around wine, food, and the family kitchen – short enough to be enjoyed while taking care of quick business (on the toilet… c’mon, you know you were thinking it).  The book is interspersed with recipes that look simple and delicious (but I wouldn’t recommend combining them with the toilet-reading).

Anyway, delving into A Feast At The Beach has the feel of exploring the back-catalog of posts from a supremely well-written blog. The first few sentences of just about every chapter draw you in, connect you with Widmaier’s Provencal childhood memories, but in their disarming terseness remain blessedly free of any hint of cloying, saccharine wistfulness.  Exhibit A – his take on pesto (when comparing it to the French pistou):

“I am addicted to fresh homemade pesto. Forget the manufactured, preserved concoctions in jars. They compare to fresh homemade pesto like motor oil compares to Normandy butter.”

You’ve just gotta love that.  And as a wine lover, you’ve got to admire Widmaier’s take on the wines of Provence, which are prevalent throughout the book and often show that he knows of what he vinously speaks: “A huge part of the joy of wine, at least in my view, is having a sense of place that goes with the wine. Wine is more than the taste on the palate; it is place, memories, history and art. This is why with wine, taste is such a personal thing – it includes one’s romantic notions.”  Bingo, dude.

Personally, I’m pleased to have stumbled upon a memoir that is well-written enough to be romantically reflective without losing its edginess. Which makes A Feast At The Beach such a rare book – it’s one that can be equally at home on your grandmother’s beach house coffee table as well as your own nightstand.  $14.95-ish (cheaper at Amazon.com).

Cheers!

1WineDude Radio: The Tanya Scholes Interview (and possible last-minute holiday gift idea for wine lovers!)

Vinted on December 7, 2010 binned in 1WineDude Radio, interviews, wine books

Today I’m very pleased to announce the launch of an idea that I’ve been contemplating in my noggin’ for a long time, which is to add podcasts to 1WineDude.com for interviews (trust me, no one wants to hear a podcast of me talking to myself).

Author and designer Tanya Scholes braved illness, jet lag, and guinea pig status to become the first victim kind-hearted soul to help me launch this podcast idea, which I’m dubbing “1WineDude Radio” because I lack the inventiveness to come up with a catchier name.

Tanya has just released her first book, The Art And Design Of Contemporary Wine Labels, and it’s a beauty (and one that his been garnering praise recently throughout the wine world), which details the previously hidden stories behind the designs of hundreds of stunning wine labels. Yes, I did receive a review copy (for those of you work in the FTC), but that won’t stop me from recommending this as a potential holiday gift for those of you looking to treat yourselves that special wine-lovin’ someone.

Anyway, in this inaugural podcast episode, Tanya talks about how the book came to be, recalls the reaction she gets to the book from winemakers, instructs me on the correct pronunciation (both English and French-Canadian) of her last name, and contemplates why wine label designers seem overly-preoccupied with cephalopods. You know, just another day at the office!

Also – a few of quick points on this whole podcast thang:

  • I am NOT attempting to usurp radio programs like (the excellent) Wine Biz Radio, who are actually sponsored, on-air programs.
  • I am NOT planning on abandoning the written word (or video).
  • YES, I am throwing this format into the mix to spice things up a little bit, and mostly to provide a means for giving more exposure to (hopefully interesting and thought-provoking) back-and-forth interviewing repartee.

Cheers!

1WineDude Radio Episode 1: The Tanya Scholes Interview


Brave New World of Wine: the 1WineDude Mark Oldman Interview

Vinted on October 13, 2010 binned in book reviews, interviews, wine books

I like wine (duh).  I also favor, and am often drawn to, personalities that are high-energy, engaging or highly-knowledgeable about their fields of expertise.

No surprise, then, that I consider Mark Oldman one of the most dynamic – and one of the best – wine educators in the world, since he’s got it going on all three fronts.

Most folks out there will recognize Mark’s face as the lead judge from the PBS reality-tv series The Winemakers, or will recall his name as the guy who makes the wine picks for the 15+ million readers of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.  But I recognize Mark as the guy who wrote the beginner’s wine book that I’ve recommended more than any other wine publication – Oldman’s Guide To Outsmarting Wine.  My standard line about Mark’s first book for years has been, "this is the one to try first for anyone beginning to get ‘into’ wine; it’s the book I wish I’d had at my side when I was first starting out as a wine buff."  In other words, I thought it was an instance classic.

Outsmarting is still largely unmatched for its combination of verve, intelligence and accessibility – a lot like Mark himself, as you’ll quickly learn from our interview below.  Mark has a new book on the shelves (I received a review copy) – Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine - and it’s geared towards the Intermediate stage of one’s vinous journey.  In the pages of Brave New World of Wine, Mark offers up wine recommendations slightly off the beaten path, meant to expand your wine knowledge and delight without expending your bank account.  For the most part, the new book is another stellar achievement for Mark, and more often than not I found myself nodding along with his recommendations and witty-but-wise takes on lesser-known varieties (turns out we’re both nuts for Nero d’Avola, ravenous for Rosé, and on a tear for Torrontés).

Mark took some time out of his busy book tour schedule to answer a few questions about his new book, the next season of The Winemakers, and how he got started inthe wine biz.  Turns out that Mark also shares my affinity for the music of a certain long-standing Canadian power rock trio (as if I needed more reasons to like the guy at this point).

Before this intro. turns into another version of "I Love You, Man," I’ll turn it over to the interview…

Enjoy!…

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1WineDude TV Episode 18: Wine Preservation on the Cheap (Wine Secrets with Marnie Old)

Vinted on September 30, 2010 binned in 1WineDude TV, interviews, learning wine, wine books

She Said “Freeze!,” He Said “Wow. Really?!?”

In this (long overdue!) episode of 1WineDude TV, I (briefly) interview (the very tall) Marnie Old, Philly’s first lady of wine and co-author (with Dogfish Head’s extreme beer maven Sam Calagione) of He Said Beer, She Said Wine: Impassioned Food Pairings to Debate and Enjoy: from Burgers to Brie and Beyond.

Marnie and I dined earlier this week at downtown Philly’s excellent Osteria, where Marnie deftly navigated the Italian-heavy wine list to match lesser-known selections with our crazy-good fare (the perks of friendship – Marnie’s been at the forefront of the Philly restaurant scene for years). 

In this interview, Marnie talks about her new book Wine Secrets: Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers & Connoisseurs, and shares a (very!) inexpensive tip from the book for preserving open bottles of wine – and it’s one that I guarantee most of you haven’t tried yet!

Interview after the jump. Enjoy…

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