I’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to know Olivier Magny a bit by email correspondence and by reading his books Stuff Parisians Like and his most recent Into Wine. Olivier has a keen wit which shines through on each page. His love of wine is obvious and in Into Wine he shares how his passion for wine began, much to his mom’s dismay, and he takes you with him on his path and breaks down wine language into easy to understand lessons. Stuff Parisians Like is true to its title and in brief two to three page chapters takes you inside the mind of a Parisian. It’s a book I wish I had before my last visit to Paris. If only I had known how much Parisians despise white socks and short sleeve shirts! Thumbing through the book you’ll get the Paris insiders look at Le Métro, various neighborhoods, restaurants and everyday life. It’s the perfect bathroom book.
Into Wine gets into many aspects of wine: terroir, screwcaps, marketing, the culture of wine and more, all in whimsical vignettes. Magny never talks down to his reader. If you have an interest in wine, and why would you be reading this if you didn’t, I recommend this book highly. While you’re at it, you won’t go wrong picking up a copy of Stuff Parisans Like. I’ve enjoyed both immensely.
I had the chance to ask Olivier a few questions recently, and I’ll share his responses with you. I first asked him whether he writes in English or French. “I write in English. French is a stunning language but one that comes, for this Frenchman, with more of a literary duty if that makes sense. For my first book (Stuff Parisians Like), I started the translation with much ease for I was certain no French person would be interested in what I was writing about. Turned out the book became a best seller in France in a matter of weeks. So… lesson learned! Now as per my proficiency in English, I did work in California for a bit. And my wife is American, which sure helps!!”
Next I asked if he had had an ‘a ha’ moment when he discovered his passion for wine. “I distinctly remember an afternoon spent in Alsace with Jean-Michel Deiss (who’s one of the greatest French vignerons out there). We talked for 3 or 4 hours non-stop, in his living room. He shared reflections and thoughts that had never crossed my mind. When I left his house, my world was completely rocked: I had just realized that wine could satisfy not only my taste buds but also my brain cells. That’s when my love story really started.”
I then asked him what was next. “Well, I’m working on this wine travel TV show. We’re going to shoot season 2 this summer. With TV, you reach so many people that I feel like it’s almost an obligation these days to get your message out. I was lucky enough that Season 1 of “The Grape Escape” aired in France, Australia, India, Sweden… TV is a very soft, yet strong way, to spread the culture of terroir, and the love for wine and its culture. I feel extremely lucky to be in a position to be an ambassador for things I love and believe in. Plus of course, O Chateau is still a big priority of mine in Paris – we do our best to make it the #1 destination in town for all wine lovers. Also, I now have a new blog out: www.MisterWineTasting.com – with lots of video content. On there, I share about wine, but (as usual) not only…”
Finally, I asked him what he hopes his readers will take away from his books. “Hmm… I’d say a BS-free description of things, with a hint of humor, and a sense of perspective. Overall, I want people to have a great time reading my books, and I want them to learn a thing or two along the way! I want to keep my readers entertained, but I also want them to keep them thinking. With INTO WINE, my objective is to explain and share the culture of terroir, and show that at a time where processes of cultural and environmental destruction are so massive, wine teaches us that there is another way…”