The fast-approaching new year gives me time to think about what I want to do. There is only so much I can control, but wine plays such a big role in my life that I need to chart a course that will open my mind to new ideas and challenges. Here are five resolutions we all need to follow:
- Just say no to bad wine. Too many times I'm asked about someone's favorite wine and to be nice I just shell out a gratuitous compliment. But we need to be more honest about wines we don't like. It could be Chateau Petrus that makes you pale or it could be Menage a Trois. What you like and what I like are probably seas apart. But my preferences shouldn't be yours. Don't follow the herd and laud a wine that has earned high scores. If you don't like it, say it. And don't apologize.
- Drink champagne year-round. Champagne prices have come down so that you can afford to drink the real thing out of season -- season being the last two months of the year. You don't even have to wait for something to celebrate -- life is celebration. Drink champagne in February or July and you'll think of something to celebrate.
- Book a trip to California. Napa has been ravaged by fires, but they are still making wine there. In fact, damage to wineries and vineyards has been vastly overestimated. Unfortunately, people have canceled trips. Help them out and enjoy everything Napa has to offer.
- Think out of the box. I've done tastings that get people out of their chardonnay/merlot boxes. I introduce them to gruner-veltliner, albarino, beaujolais, charbono, roussanne, and other grape varieties that deliver new flavors. With all the wine on the market, why should we be stuck on the same old grape varieties? Let's get out of our comfort zones.
- Think more about wine and learn. Are you thinking about the wine you are drinking, or just working on a buzz? Spend more time swirling the wine in the glass, taking in its aromas and pondering over its flavors. Maybe you can't identify much, but at least try. Read a book on tasting or attend a tasting and learn what to look for. It's not hard: most pinot noirs taste like cherries; zinfandel reminds you of plums and blackberries; syrah is strawberries; chardonnay is tropical fruit and apples; pinot grigio is peach and apricots. Think about these descriptors and see if you taste them. Go on line and find out what the winemaker tastes and smells in his wine.
Now, get out there and taste!