I receive quite a bit of wine for which I pay nothing. I have never bothered to measure the volume of influx of wine samples to my door, but it is high enough that whenever the doorbell rings in the afternoon, my toddler daughter now exclaims “more boxes of wine, daddy!”
Generally this volume of samples means two things for me:
- I cannot dream of complaining about the situation, even though it largely results in my basement storage space being taken up with shipping materials full bottles of wine that aren’t necessarily very good; and
- Whenever I receive a sample of something that isn’t actually a bottle of wine, I take notice immediately.
So naturally, the sample copy of Issue 29 of the UK-based publication The World of Fine Wine I received recently really stood out, as did the letter of introduction from its editor, Neil Beckett (and not just because it was printed on A4 paper). Here’s what Neil wrote to me (I’m hoping he doesn’t mind me reproducing it here):
“Some of my team here are followers of your site and we hoped you might like to see what we do in a rather more old-fashioned medium…”
That medium of course being a printed magazine, though calling The World of Fine Wine a magazine is a bit like calling the Bible a doorstop. It’s a gorgeous example of print, with stunning art reproductions and photography, and its 200+ pages put it more into the coffee-table-book species than what we in the U.S. customarily think of when asked to picture a wine magazine in our mind’s eyes. It also costs £30 per issue – or, roughly $170 for four issues. Ouch!…
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In 2011, 1WineDude.com officially turns Pro.
Which begs the question, What the hell does “Pro” mean, anyway?
When I figure that out, I will be letting you know!
The short answer, for now, is that it means I will no longer be working for The Man, and instead will be figuring out how to make a living and feed the collective Roberts household mouths using 1WineDude.com as the primary vehicle.
You’ll notice that I did not state that I will be making a living totally from blogging on 1WineDude.com (I suppose that’s best left for the gadget sites of the “Interwebs” who get more traffic per minute than I see in a week), but I will be using 1WD as the launching pad for making a living within the constructs of the wine world.
Despite the rugged-loner namesake of this blog, I will not be doing this alone. I have a ton of help coming my way – the Vintank think-tank team is on board (although I’m pretty sure they have no idea how much of their time I am going to be taking up! :-), and I’m in the final negotiation stages with some other resources who are experts in on-line and brand-focused business-building (one of whom has done work for someone that you probably recognize). Oh – and then there’s YOU, the amazing, intelligent, and acute readers of this blog, who have been amazingly supportive.
The ironic thing about this becoming the topic of a full post (and even more ironically working its way into a regular feature – as you will soon see below), is that initially I wasn’t even going to talk about any of this on the blog.
Every time the topic of me “going pro” came up in conversation with anyone else, each and every person (literally, all of them – and yes that list includes more people than my mom) told me that I should write about it, because while others have done similar things in other spaces, no one has really applied it successfully to the wine world in the same way that I’m envisioning.
So… here’s what I’ve got planned…
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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…
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