Are you one of those people who make firm resolutions as the old year wanes and the new one casts its eye over the horizon? No? Neither am I. But if I was asked by someone who appreciates wine to suggest a few ideas about increasing their wine enjoyment, and perhaps also expanding their wine knowledge in the year to come, well – here are just a few ideas they might consider:
- Have more fun with wine. With experience comes knowledge, and knowing more about the wine you’re drinking can certainly increase your enjoyment. BUT – first of all, wine is about sensory pleasure. It’s about how the wine makes you feel. It’s about the people you are sharing it with and the food you are pairing it with. So forget about over-defining the liquid that you are tasting, forget about taking it apart and categorizing it. When I see a small enclave of people with a wine glass in their hand and a smile on their lips – then I know the wine is making itself truly understood. So enjoy!
- Trust your palate. Don’t be over-awed by expensive wines and big names, nor by more experienced tasters. Listen to what they say, but make your own assessment. Everyone’s palate is different, so don’t be afraid to speak up and be heard. Your ability to articulate your feelings will become easier with a little experience (and more wine).
- Take chances. Take a few steps away from your comfort zone. Try more unusual wines from more unusual wine areas. By doing this you broaden what is acceptable to your palate as well as increase your knowledge and appreciation of the wine world. This is where the real fun begins!
- Drink more Riesling. Try to understand how this sometimes-maligned and oft-ignored grape variety makes one of the truly greatest and most versatile of all white wines. If you like Moscato – give sweeter Riesling a try. If you like Sauvignon Blanc – allow yourself to be seduced by a dry Riesling.
- Plan a trip to the region that produces a wine that you particularly enjoy. Wine vacations are becoming very popular. It’s true that you never truly begin to understand a wine until you get a feel for the land where it comes from. So walk the vineyards, taste the wines of the region, talk to the people, indulge in the local cuisine, and take in the local architecture. You’ll find that your level of appreciation for the wine increases exponentially.
- Open some of those collector’s wines you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Who knows what tomorrow brings? Enjoy at least some of them now. Oh, and for even greater enjoyment, share them with good friends.
- Make every bottle special, no matter how little it cost or how ordinary it is. Enjoying wine often goes beyond the wine itself. You have to create the ambiance. Even in the tiniest of apartments you can still relax and savor your wine. Turn off the TV. Put on some music that you love. Have some toothsome tidbit with it. Use your finest stemware, even on the most ordinary of days. Take the wine outside or on the porch, and leave aside the news of the day. Share it with a good friend.
Well, these are just a few suggestions to improve your appreciation of wine in the year ahead. But whatever you may resolve, we would like to take a moment to wish you a happy and peaceful 2016, full to the brim with great wines and wine experiences. And if you have made other resolutions of a vinous nature we’d love to hear them. Cheers!
Bill Stobbs, Wine & Spirits Supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinebills