John Mahoney likes to think of himself as a self-described wine missionary — he’s out to convert others.
It’s a crusade that has taken him from teaching to publishing his latest book, “Wine for Intellectuals.”
But don’t be daunted by the title, Mahoney said — the book is actually a “coarse guide” for everyone.
And no, he didn’t misspell “coarse.”
“I wanted to make it a conversation,” he said. “I wanted it to be rough so it wouldn’t scare you away because the title was scary enough. I start with all the basics.”
Many wine books, he said, burden the reader with maps, photos, vocabulary or cumbersome details. Other books skimp on information.
“You’re not studying medicine,” said the Buena Vista Township author. “It’s not open heart surgery. It’s suppose to improve your life so you eat better and drink better.”
“Wine for Intellectuals” weaves into its 182 pages the fundamentals, how to taste, what to stow away in a cellar, how to read labels, matching your wine to food and notable wine quotes, among other topics.
Mahoney even includes some wine conversation starters.
“I want people to read it to get curious about little things, that’s why I added bold notes so those are things you can bring into conversations or parties,” he said.
Mahoney’s a firm believer that drinking wine can improve your life and can lead drinkers to art, culture, music, dance and theater.
Mahoney is a guest lecturer in Stockton’s new wine fundamentals course in Hospitality & Tourism Management Studies. He was instrumental in developing the course, which started in January.
As a “missionary,” he tries to impart the joys of wine drinking on younger generations so they’ll try new wines, and share the good word with friends so that they’ll start trying more wines, too.
“They’re actually getting some friends together and having a glass wine,” he said.
Mahoney is also getting together with some friends soon to pop open a vintage bottle from 1900.
But drinking old wines isn’t just about refining the pallet; it can be about soaking in the time it was created, too.
“When you drink old wine, you’re drinking the summer sunshine of that year,” he said, noting that he has picked up flavors of smoke in wines from California where there were heavy fires, or a hint of mint from a vineyard he later found out was surrounded by eucalyptus plants.
“The more curious you are, the more inquisitive you are, wine actually has to be your drink of choice,” he said.
“Wine for Intellectuals” is available on Amazon and currently boasts five stars.
One reviewer wrote that, “for the curious novice it is simple, well organized, and interesting. For wine enthusiasts it is enlightening, informative and fun. For the experts it reminds them of the sensuality and ethereal reasons they love wine and why they want to know more in a clever presentation of the wine essentials.”
“Wine for Intellectuals” is the second book by Mahoney about wine. His first book, “Every Bottle Has a Story,” was published in 2012.