Mark Oldman’s Oscars Wine Guide

Who’s excited for this Sunday’s Academy Awards? Just like last year, we’ve asked wine expert Mark Oldman for his drinkable guide to the Oscars. Check it out below then read on for a preview of what you can expect from him at this year’s festival!

American Hustle

American Hustle is a ripe, seductive Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – irresistible with its black currant perfume and velvety touch. Like the movie, it evokes the 1970s, which is when this wine category emerged as a world-contender. In honor of retro-sexy Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, we look to polished and hedonistic Hourglass Cabernet from Napa.

Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks’ heroic character in “Captain Phillips” stays calm amid a gut-wrenching hijacking, and his unflappability evokes Grüner Veltliner, the citrusy, faintly peachy medium-weight white remarkable for its grace and restraint.

Dallas Buyer’s Club

Matthew McConaughey’s against-the-odds victory during the early days of the AIDS epidemic brings to mind newly popular dessert wine Moscato d’Asti. Once a little-known pick from the Piedmont region of Italy, this gloriously fragrant wine has recently exploded in popularity, proving itself, like McConaughey’s character, a whippet-lean but mesmerizing force to be reckoned with.


We will liken “Gravity” to red Burgundy, because like the movie, the best red Burgundies are sleek, beautiful, and totally immersive. But their expense and fiendish inconsistency can be as terrifying as an untethered tumble through deep space.


With its portrayal of a man in love with his computer’s operating system, “Her” seems like a cutting-edge tale for the Suri age, but at its core are timeless lessons about the complexity of human relationships. Similarly, lean, zingy French Chablis – specifically Michel Laroche Chablis – seems modern with its screw cap, but it represents one of the most traditional and pure examples of Chardonnay.


Moody but finely nuanced, “Nebraska” is like Cahors, the often astringent red country wine from southwestern France. The wrong bottle can be as ornery as Bruce Dern’s character, creating melancholy like the black-and-white movie itself, but good examples can be deeply satisfying and a family tradition in its native region.


Judy Dench’s character’s quest to recover her long-lost son is ultimately a tale about forgiveness, and that is also a central quality of Malbec from Argentina. Rarely bitter or lacking in flavor, the vast majority of Malbecs are a forgiving excursion in lush plums and blackberries, with layer after layer of espresso, chocolate, and minerals.

12 Years a Slave

In this wrenching account of a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character displays intensity, dignity and uncommon endurance.  This is Barolo at its best, a full-throttled, muscular red from Italy displaying blackberries and roses, enormous concentration, and the ability to persist on your palate and in the bottle for longer than most could imagine.

The Wolf of Wall Street

With its depiction of hard-partying, rule-breaking stockbrokers, the “Wolf of Wall Street” conjures up the Super Tuscan, the rich Italian red that broke the rules of the Chianti region by including then unsanctioned French grapes like Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah. Like the three-hour movie, good Super Tuscans – such as Sassicaia, Sammarco, and Orenllaia — persist on your palate for a near-eternity.

AFWF: From navigating wine lists to advice for finding the best reds and bubbly – what can festival-goers expect from your demos at the 2014 Austin FOOD & WINE Festival?

My bliss is teaching about wine. I tell people that I specialize in dispensing easily implemented nuggets of wine wisdom. From me you’re not going to get lengthy expositions on chemistry or viticulture or other extraneous subjects that often confuse and bore the casual drinker. I focus on the practical: things you can do today to enhance your wine experience at home, in wine stores, and at those nerve centers of wine anxiety, restaurants. I spend a lot of time thinking about which nuggets are going to resonate with audiences.

Then there’s the entertainment factor. As Mark Twain once said, “never let schoolin’ interfere with your education.” I never want my presentations to feel didactic. Learning about wine should be joyous. Recently a magazine editor introduced one of my talks by saying – bless her – that my wine seminars are famous for being stimulating, humorous, and like one big party. For me, that’s the greatest compliment.

AFWF:Who do you think will take home Best Picture?

With apologies to highly analytical cinephiles, my Best Picture prediction hinges entirely on one wardrobe choice: Amy Adams’ vintage Halston dresses in “American Hustle”. These cleavage-bearing, deep V-neck sheaths are a character unto themselves, an unforgettable demonstration of how sizzlingly sexy 1970s fashion could be.