When it comes to saving money or loosing weight, New Year’s resolutions can be a burden. That’s why most get abandoned well before Groundhog Day. But when it comes to wine, resolutions are easy. After all, they’re designed to enhance your pleasure, not tighten your belt. Here, then, are ten New Year’s wine resolutions, suggestions of ways to make buying and drinking the world’s most enjoyable beverage even more enjoyable in 2015:
Drink More Bubbly:
Sparkling wine is not just a special occasion item. If bubbles in the wine make a wedding or ship launching seem festive, imagine what they can do for a Wednesday night supper at home. So this year, resolve to drink bubbly more often. If price isn’t a big concern, buy true Champagne from France. It’s still the best. But for those of us who need to be budget-conscious, remember that good sparkling wine comes from elsewhere at a fraction of the price. Prosecco from northern Italy is quite chic these days. To my palate, it often tastes sappy, but there’s no denying its popularity. Drier alternatives include Cavas from Spain, Cremants from both Alsace and Burgundy, and Champagne-styled American sparklers. Why not resolve to try a wide range in 2015?
Be More Adventurous:
We fall into ruts all the time, doing the same thing over and over again. And to be fair, routine often can be a good thing, especially when getting work done. But drinking wine isn’t work, and enjoying it shouldn’t be routine. So spice things up in 2015. Try new wines from new places or new producers. Don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment. Diversity, not reliability, is the great pleasure of wine. (If you really want the same old same old, drink Budweiser. It never--yawn--changes.)
Don’t Buy Wine by the Case:
While a house wine makes sense in a restaurant, it doesn’t make much sense for consumers at home. Another way to avoid getting stuck in a wine rut, drinking the same Chardonnay or the same Cabernet week after week, is to resolve to stop buying it by the case. Limit yourself to purchasing three or four bottles of any given wine at any one time. Then fill the rest of the carton with other wines. That way, you’ll be sure to always have something new and different to try.
Try Local Wines:
More and more fine wines are being made close to home these days, no matter where home might be. Don’t be seduced into thinking that the only good American wines come from the west coast. First rate ones also hail from Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and many more unexpected locales. Try them, both when at home and when on the road. Odds are good that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Trust Your Own Palate:
Buying wine can be intimidating, more so surely than buying beer, orange juice, vodka, coffee, or any other beverage. That’s because the same factors that make wine so exciting--diversity and variety--also make it befuddling. How do you know what to buy when a good shop offers literally thousands of options?
The answer is to get to know and to trust your own taste, all the while recognizing that tastes change over time. In turn, that means not following so-called experts who promote this or that wine with hyperbolic rhetoric. A 90+ score means nothing if not accompanied by some explanation of how it was derived. And even with such accompaniment, the number won’t help you if the person who assigned it doesn’t share your likes and dislikes.
Don’t be satisfied with saying that you like a particular one. Try to go a step further and identify why you like it. This can be harder than it sounds, as English is woefully deficient in descriptive words for the senses of smell and taste. Still, only by putting your preferences into language will you be able to know them fully.
Stop Saving Treasures:
Though only a small percentage of wines improve with age, and these only with the benefit of proper storage, many people hold onto “special” bottles for far too long before opening them. Invariably the wine disappoints, a white having oxidized, a red having become tired and dull. So stop saving your best wines, and start enjoying them. No wine is so special that it doesn’t belong in a glass.
Invest in Good Glasses:
Speaking of glass--a good one, meaning one made of real glass, preferably thin crystal, can make a world of difference. A wine served in it will taste and smell more evocative and nuanced than the same wine served in something else. That’s why good glassware is the one wine accessory worth buying. Forget fancy corkscrews, preservation devices (most of which are fraudulent), and the like. But do buy good glasses.
Wine almost always shows its best when it’s shared. Just as you can hold onto a “special” bottle for too long, you can make a serious mistake by waiting for just the “right” company. Resolve right now to go through your collection--be that ten bottles or 1,000--and decide which wines you are going to drink, and share, in 2015.
Pay More Attention in Restaurants:
Buying wine in restaurants can be frustrating. Service is often poor and prices exorbitant. The best strategy is to be diligent. One example: Be sure to examine the specific bottle that the waiter or waitress brings you, as the vintage on the label may not match the one promised on the wine list. When that happens, voice your displeasure forcefully. Restaurateurs won’t begin to improve wine service until they know that we patrons are unhappy with the status quo.