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Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine: 108 Ingenious Shortcuts to Navigate the World of Wine with Confidence and Style Paperback – December 7, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Robust, hearty and full bodied describe not just a Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon but also this comprehensive wine guide for the novice oenophile. Oldman, who has taught wine courses for more than 10 years (and, incidentally, cofounded the career Web site, boils the basics of wine down to 108 simple chapters (here called "shortcuts"). He proves "the dirty little secret of wine appreciation is that there's just not that much to it." While Oldman says this isn't a reference book, it may be best used that way. Without the benefit of a flight of tasting wines, the information is overwhelming. Yet to look up wines by type or region, or to learn how to order in a restaurant, Oldman's guide overflows with succinct, useful advice. Those determined to read it straight through will find Oldman's anecdotal style makes the subject lighthearted and fun, and Oldman is amusingly opinionated: "Drinking Pinot Grigio is often like experiencing an Ikea rug, Ben Stein's voice, or a dose of Paxil: neutral, monotone, and devoid of highs." The casual voice occasionally is forced (drinking old wine "won't earn you a prayer session at the porcelain altar") but it makes the information accessible. Each shortcut comes with even more shortcuts: a "cheat sheet" summary, wine picks by price range, a pronunciation table and suggestions for food pairings.
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A fresh, funny guide...glib and unpretentious, Oldman decodes wine-tasting lingo and shows how to spot a bargain bottle -- People

Highly approachable...[an] inviting and informative book sure to please both novice and experienced wine connoisseurs -- Library Journal

If only we'd had just one wine book: Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine -- Jesse Kornbluth

If you're a budding wine enthusiast with a distaste for encyclopedic volumes, this is the book for you. -- La Cucina Italiana

Simplifies...with fun and celebrity -- San Francisco Chronicle

The perfect book -- Wine Enthusiast

Transforms the wine experience -- Kirkus

We love [Oldman's Guide]; Mark demystifies the world of wine -- Family Circle, Editors' Choice Selection

Winespeak without the geek...will make you fluent in wine without sounding like a blowhard... -- Bon Appètit

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Trade Paperback Edition edition (December 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004920
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Passionate about helping wine enthusiasts jostle the jaded, slay the snooty, and drink bravely, Mark Oldman (@MarkOldman) is one of the country's leading wine personalities. He is the wine expert for Pottery Barn and wine columnist for the Food Network. His signature style was best summed up by Bon Appètit magazine as "winespeak without the geek" and by Publishers Weekly as "the ideal mix of wine connoisseur, showman, and everyday dude." He has twice won the Georges Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year Award.

Mark's latest book, Oldman's Brave New World of Wine (W. W. Norton), is the ultimate antidote for those craving new taste sensations. It plots a course to pleasure, value, and adventure beyond wine's usual suspects, focusing on that holy grail of wine lovers: insider wines of moderate cost and maximum appeal. The Wall Street Journal recently called Oldman's Brave New World of Wine "the perfect book for someone who's just caught the bug, or would like to." Winner of the 2011 Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year Award, it was named one of the "Best of Books of the Year" (Apple iTunes), "amazing, hilarious" (Marie Clare), "charismatic and cool" (Publishers Weekly), "wicked funny" (Palm Beach Post), "a welcome discussion of many little-known wines that have a great deal of pleasure to offer" (New York Times), a resource that "lives up to its promise" (, "for enthusiasts of all levels" (Fine Cooking), "hedonistic happiness" (wine personality Natalie MacLean), and "a book you will cherish" (Huffington Post).

Mark's last book, the best-selling Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine (Penguin), was called "perfect" (Wine Enthusiast), "shortcuts to a connoisseur's confidence" (BusinessWeek), and "the perfect primer--concise, evenhanded, fun, and practical" (The New Yorker). Currently in its ninth printing, it won the 2005 Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year Award, was a finalist for "Best Wine Book" at the World Food Media Awards, and is published in Japan, Belgium, and in four volumes in France.

Mark is a lead judge in the PBS television series "The Winemakers" and is in the middle of filming the show's next season in France's Rhone Valley. He is also a regular on Martha Stewart Radio's "Living Today" program on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Mark has written for several top publications, including Food & Wine, Departures, and Travel & Leisure, and he has chosen all of the wine picks for the 15-million annual readers of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. He regularly speaks to sold-out audiences at the country's top gastronomic festivals, including the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, the Boston Wine Expo, and the Food Network Wine & Food Festivals in New York and South Beach. In 2011 he is also appearing at a host of other leading venues, among them the James Beard House, the 92nd Street Y, the American Heart Association "Heart's Delight" Auction in Washington, D.C., Pebble Beach Food & Wine, the New York Wine Expo, Oregon's International Pinot Noir Celebration, and many other appearances.

Mark began his wine journey in 1990 when as a student he founded Stanford Wine Circle, a popular university club hosting tastings with California wine legends, earning him the nickname "Bacchus on the Campus" in Wine Spectator magazine. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a B.A., M.A., and J.D., Mark has long been keenly interested in innovating in the areas of education and consumer advocacy. Mark co-founded the career portal in 1997 and served as the company's president through its successful sale in 2007 to a private equity firm. He has served on four major boards of Stanford, including the university's Board of Trustees.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By argosy46 on September 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Since I buy Oldman's Guide here so often as a gift, I'll add my voice to the chorus. I agree with the last reviewer that OG stands at the head of the line for wine books. I consider myself somewhere between a wine connoisseur and still-learning novice and I'll go so far to say that OG is the best wine book that I own. It is a book that I'm still learning from, while most of my other wine guides molder on the shelf after a few sittings. -And here in my home office I have two and a half bookshelves of wine books- The author Mark Oldman offers just the right amount of commentary on major wine topics-grape types, storing wine, dining out, et cetera. The descriptions and explanations are really clever and very dead-on and just the right tone for someone to learn about wine (or learn more about wine after they've mastered the basics). Oldman's Guide cost me only about $14 (with shipping) here at Amazon and I have referred to the book so much that it is already looks like I've had it for a decade. It is furthest thing I've seen from the standard monotonous wine encylopedia. This is the book to get.

I also endorse Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible as a solid all-around reference book - it covers everything in a lot of accurate detail. And if you want a graphical overview, you can't go wrong with World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson, which is a large display-style book and very high quality.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M Lee on January 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
With this incredible book, it's hard to even know where to start.

Ever since I accidentally opened a friend's bottle of '86 Heitz Napa cabernet and fell in love, I've been studying wine whenever I get a chance. I've purchased books like "The Wall Street Journal's Guide to Understanding Wine," "Wine for Dummies," and some more advanced "grape-specific" books. After reading through a few pages of this book, I was blown away and proceeded to spend two hours engrossed in one of the most entertaining books I've ever read - even among non-wine books! I laughed throughout, poked on by Oldman's extremely clever wit and knowledge.

The book can be used as a reference - lately I've been checking it to make sure I'm serving Fume Blanc (same as Sauvignon Blanc, as I've found out) at the appropriate temperature - but it's more likely that you'll read this as a novel. A very, very entertaining one.

Among the valuable things I've picked up from the book - besides the already-cited examples of what prominent and celebrity wine lovers like to have on their tables - include:

- How to pronounce everything related to wine you ever worried about trying to say. I'm talking about Riedel, Taittinger, Chateau Cos d'Estournel and Moet, which is pronounced "Mo-EHT, not Moe-AY."

- The many affordable options in the world of wine - encouraging those who are either shy, unadventurous, poor or all of the above to try new, good-value wines.

- What wines to pair with food, and more importantly why - from the science to the history to what is most accepted in popular culture (things like champagne and cake at weddings) even though they technically might not taste that great together.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By B. Joseph on July 10, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I finally found the wine book I was looking for! I previously read a couple to wine books to educate myself but they were either too complicated or packed with information I really did not need. Oldman's book is so well written, easy to read and understand. It is full of practical knowledge and organized into 108 short chapters. Each of the 350 pages is packed with useful information, and the material is arranged in an eye-catching manner. It is an entertaining read. It offers reference books and web sites for those who wish to learn more about a suject. It discusses basic grapes, regions, different types of wine, cost, pronunciations, how to pair wine with specific foods or occasions etc. This book clarified so many misconceptions and answered some of my questions in a clear way. For example: "Just say no to cork inhalation" is a memorable line that gets the message across. Another example is when Oldman describes the smell of blackcurrant and Cabernets. This book is perfect for novices who will not be ovewhelmed with useless facts. Even for someone like me who is somewhat knowledgeable about wines, this was the perfect book. I wish I read this years ago!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By HRH on December 22, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own at least a dozen wine books and this one is my pick for best book to start one's wine library. Even if you know a good amount about wine like me (I've worked in the industry) you'll find plenty of gems in Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine, making it well worth the purchase. Where else can you get the wine picks of many industry insiders? The shortcuts are succinct enough to avoid overburdening you with an unnecessary level of detail and yet thorough enough that you'll be able to enter a conversation on the topic with self-confidence. This book contains the best wine and cheese pairing advice I've come across--it was informative and hilarious. The author advises that "when things get stinky... call in the big guns", then helpfully provides a list of cheeses that go with pretty much everything. Another of my favorite shortcuts told how to tell if a restaurant is on your side when it comes to wine. Using the tips that follow, you'll be able to save the money spent on this book, and then some, on your next restaurant wine choice. Not only that, if the wine steward sneers at you, you'll be able to confidently sneer back and order with style. I gave this book as a gift to my boss, colleagues, and friends alike-it's the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of good wine.
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