The new year is full of optimism and renewed hope. It’s also a time when people make promises to themselves they know they’ll never keep. So let’s forget the gym memberships, saving money, and the diets that take all the fun out of eating this year and make some new resolutions you can keep. Resolutions are easier to stick to when they’re fun, and mine don’t include drinking less, just drinking different. New Year’s resolutions should improve your quality of life and expand how you see the world; my list will give you another look at the world of wine and help you discover new and exciting tastes. These are designed to push you out of your comfort zone so you can see what else is out there. Who knows, your favorite wine may be one you haven’t even tried yet.
Drink more bubbly
If you reserve sparkling wine for holidays and celebrations, it’s time to break that bad habit. Sparkling wine has a great way of lifting your spirit after a hard day, so why not pick up a bottle on an average Friday night?
Not all bubbly is expensive — there are some wonderful examples for under and around $20. Prosecco is refreshing and delicious and usually runs you less than a 20 `see The Omniboire, December 29, 2009`, and good wine shops should be littered with the stuff as its popularity is on the rise. Regions such as Alsace, Loire Valley and the Jura in France all make great sparkling wines that deliver incredible complexity for your wine-buying dollar. Make sure to include the odd bottle of sparkling rosé, too. These are mostly dry and are sure to put a smile on your face after a tough day.
Don’t drink the same wine twice
There is a lot of wine out there, so if you want to taste as much as possible you’re going to have to stop doubling up. Force yourself to try something different every time you shop and see how long you can go before you repeat a wine. This exercise will make you try new things and experiment in areas you might not otherwise go. Remember, the more wine you taste, the more you will learn about what you really like.
Drink some Riesling
I think I say this every year, but for the love of god, please drink some Riesling! There is so much great Riesling out there and they are practically giving it away these days. If you don’t like sweet wines (or at least won’t admit that you do) then look for a dry version; there are plenty of good ones available. Riesling is probably the greatest food wine on the planet and works well with anything from Thai to Chinese to Moroccan and just about anything you can pull out of a river or ocean. Don’t miss out on the world of Riesling, great things await you.
Try things you’ve never heard of
Forget Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay for a while and look for some good Xinomavro, Baga, or Catarratto. As with most things, the best values lie in the areas that are least understood, so finding a great buy from Greece or Portugal is easier than finding a screaming deal on a bottle of California Cabernet. What makes wine such a compelling drink is its endless diversity. If you stick to one grape or one country you will miss much of what wine has to offer you.
Avoid the brands
If the label is donning a cute animal with a catchy name and in no way indicates where it comes from, chances are you’re dealing with a brand. These are designed to induce a sort of wine coma whereby you don’t think of any of the important things, like where the wine came from and what it is made from. These are more “grape beverage” than authentic wine and are to be avoided at all costs; look for wines that have been made by real people.
Make a friend at a good wine store
If any of the above resolutions are going to work for you then this is probably the most important step. You need to have someone on the inside helping you along the path. Find a good wine shop (one without the word liquor in its title would be a good start) and get to know one of the staff. This will help you discover wines you never would have known about and uncover some great buys. It also allows the person selling you the wine to get to know your palate a bit. Once they see what you like, they can recommend similar things.
I hope these resolutions lead to some great new discoveries in 2010, teach you something about yourself, and help cultivate your love for wine. •