In order to enhance and amplify your wine drinking over the next year, here are a few suggestions of wine-related resolutions. Read them, become inspired, and follow. You may get to the gym for a week or so but these will be much more fun to stick to over the long haul!
Wine Resolution No. 1:
Try a grape variety you've never heard of before.
For example: Agiorgitiko (R,) Blaufränkisch (R,) Cortese (W,) Furmint (W,) Gouveio (W,) Mencía (R,) Sagrantino (R,) Touriga Franca (R,) Verdejo (W). Many indigenous grapes from around the world are getting a wider exhibition, and advances in winemaking techniques definitely help in showing some of these interesting varieties in their best light.
Wine Resolution No. 2:
Try a region you've never heard of before.
Goes hand in hand with the above. If you're not familiar with the wines from Greece, Austria, Hungary, the Basque region of Spain, Portuguese table wines, Italian regions other than Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto, etc. etc. and so on: get out an atlas and get tasting!
Wine Resolution No. 3:
Learn about wine faults.
Beginning Wineaux MUST learn to differentiate between a wine they don't like and a wine that has something wrong with it. Two of the most common faults encountered are a wine that is "corked" and a wine that has oxidized from being open too long. A corked wine will have a musty, wet dog odor blanketing the wine's natural aromas. Because this effect is related to the bleaching process of the cork itself, it can happen in ANY wine stopped with a natural cork. An oxidized wine will taste burnt or "flat" or even astringent. If you have a question about a possible fault, consult with your server. And now, see the following:
Wine Resolution No. 4:
Demand more from your wine bars.
If I ask for a glass of wine in a die-hard Irish pub, say, I suspect I am going to get a cheapo glass of plonk that has probably been sitting open for a week. But if I am in a self-proclaimed wine bar or restaurant with a decent wine list, I expect there to be a certain level of knowledge and service, and so should you. I have had numerous experiences where I practically had a Wild West show-down over a corked wine. Either the server didn't know or didn't agree with me, but they left a sour taste in the mouth in more ways than one. However, I also have had many pleasant experiences where my question about freshness of a wine by the glass was met with an offer to open a brand new bottle straightaway. Wineaux, educate yourselves. If you don't like a wine, offer to pay for it and order something different. If there is something wrong with it, be confident to order a different bottle of the same wine or something else and, with courtesy, demand good customer service. It goes both ways.
Wine Resolution No. 5:
Take a class.
From me, from a local wine shop, from a wine bar... just take one. Or six. A class is a perfect environment to sample numerous wines with other people looking to expand their experiences. You may find a new variety you love or new depth in a variety you already know. Or exciting wines from an unfamiliar region. (See how this all ties together?) Sometimes I even have a corked and an oxidized wine on hand in my class to really get you good and educated!
It goes without saying that classes really help you fine-tune your palate. If you learn what you like best in a wine - dry, grassy, floral whites, or maybe bold, spicy, fruit-forward reds - any server or wine shop clerk worth his or her salt will be able to communicate with you and take your enjoyment of wine to the next level.
|Members of the Nat'l Tour of "Mamma|
Mia!" at Franciscan in Napa.
Visit a winery.
Even if you have no idea what malolactic fermentation or cap management techniques are, getting an inside peek at the process of winemaking is a perfect way to help you understand more about what ends up in the glass. And usually a tour is followed by a tasting! There are quality wine regions all over the country, including pockets in some surprising places like Virginia, New Mexico and Texas, if you can't get to California or upstate New York.
What it all boils down to is this: resolve to expand your experience of wine and you will be rewarded with the vast array of wines the world has to offer! More than any other beverage, wine offers a social connection. Enjoy it (responsibly) and reap the benefits! Cheers and Happy New Year!
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