As this issue goes to press, 2014 is coming to a close, with 2015 in sight. Our new year starts with January, named after Janus, the Roman god of gates and doors generally depicted with two faces, one looking forward and one looking behind. Gates and doorways symbolize the transition to something new, to change. In the west, we have come to associate the new year as a time for reflection, to consider some of our past behaviors and resolve to make some changes.
In the spirit of new directions, you may want to consider changing up some of your wine patterns. We offer a few wine resolutions below to get your creative juices flowing. One great thing about these—they should be fun and therefore, fairly easy to keep! If you have a local wine merchant with whom you have a relationship (we can recommend one—Windham Wines!), s/he can help with your selections. Perhaps should you adopt one or two, you will find yourself in an entirely different wine world by the end of 2015. Cheers!
No need to spend a fortune on airfare and lodging; stay home and enjoy the world through wine. There are so many ways to structure this resolution. Here are some variations on a theme of wine travel:
Follow your palate to some new regions. Do you love Sauvignon Blanc, but you mostly drink just those from California? Segue to the Loire for something similar but definitely not the same, or pick up a bottle from Marlborough in New Zealand. Maybe you love Pinot Noir, but haven’t ventured outside of Oregon to Burgundy. How about a side-by-side tasting of the same varietal from different regions? You’ll need some good friends to help you with this one. Let us know what you love and we can guide you as you broaden your wine repertoire.
Explore a particular country through its wine. Thinking of going to the Dolomites on a bike trip next summer? Enjoy some wines from Alto Adige/Trentino area as a warm-up. Finally going to walk part or all of the Camino di Santiago de Compostela? You can enhance your preparations with some wines from Txokoli, Navarra, Bierzo and Galicia. Birding in Australia on your short list? Study your images and calls while exploring some wines from Victoria or Western Australia.
Experiment with new varieties
Do you always reach for Cabernet Sauvignon? Love your “go-to” bottle of Sauvignon Blanc? Make 2015 the year you try new varieties. Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine, published a tome earlier this year entitled Wine Grapes, in which she identifies over 1350 different grape varieties used for making wine; there are 377 from Italy alone. This is resolution can appear on your list for the next several years! I can tell you from experience that pursuing it is a lot of fun.
Here are some whites to add to your grape list that should be fairly widely available: Albarino, Cortese, Garganega, Falanghina, Godello, Grenache Blanc, Grillo, Gruner Veltliner, Kerner, Malvasia, Pinot Blanc, Torrontes, Trebbiano, Verdejo, Vermentino;
And some reds that also should be fairly accessible: Aglianico, Blaufrankisch, Bobal, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Dolcetto, Frappato, Mencia, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Norello Mascalese, Pinotage, Primitivo, Schiava, Zweigelt.
Return to something you have not tried in years
I don’t know about you, but a short love affair with Sutter Home, White Zin in the early 1980s left me utterly certain that pink wine and I were not a match. A trip to Provence in the early 1990s provided the opportunity to discover my mistake. We are now avowed rosé fanatics. What about you? German Riesling? California Chardonnay? Sparkling Wine? Are any of these among those wines that you learned many years ago that you did not like? Go back, see if they have changed or, just as likely, see if your palate has changed.
Resolve to open that special bottle this year
Do you have a special bottle that you have harbored for years, waiting for a special occasion on which to enjoy it. The time is now—open it and share it with your partner, good friends, your adult children, whomever. Over the years, we have heard many sad stories of wine held so long that when it is finally opened, it is past its prime. Open it, and enjoy!
Keep Prosecco, Cava, Cremant, Champagne, or one of the myriad bubblies on hand to celebrate the recurring events that give life joy. We start our get-togethers with sparkling because friendship is something to celebrate. We also open a bottle when we visit our son and his girlfriend in New York, or when we get together with Frank’s or my family because, after all, is there a better occasion to celebrate than that we enjoy our families? You don’t need a special occasion for sparkling. Bubbles set the tone and convey a mood—we celebrate you!