• by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier and Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits •
I am going to lose 30 pounds. I am going to quit smoking. I am going to work out every day. You hear them every year. New Year’s Resolutions that are sure to go bust. They are promising in the beginning, but quickly discarded by the end of January and into February.
Why not hold yourself accountable to something that you really want to do instead? No need to wait until after the New Year to get yourself started on these easy Wine Resolutions. Whether celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary, a bountiful Thanksgiving feast or even just today, these are resolutions that are easy to keep, will create fond new memories for you and (BONUS) be tons of fun along the way!
Exploration Wine Station
You may have heard the phrase by some wine drinkers that they consume “ABC” wines referring to “Anything But Chardonnay.” Then there are those who profess they only drink red wine. While we may have our go-to house wine selections, the wine industry is always changing or moving and shaking, if you will. This means there are many new things to learn and taste and a lot of undiscovered territory to be found. Think outside of what may be your own self-imposed wine box. Discover new to you, lesser known grape varietals that you may have never heard of before and wine regions you never knew grew wine or even existed.
Think of it as a Scavenger Hunt you can do as an individual or with a team. Try a new wine from a different region, while taking notes and pictures along the way to make it a fun experience. A few wines to try on for size: Aligoté, Charbono, Picpoul, Touriga Nacional, and Zweigelt. And speaking of size…
Bigger is Better, Go Magnum!
Everything is bigger in Texas… or Nantucket. Want to impress? What better way while spending time with family and friends than to bring out the big guns! A Magnum bottle of wine, which contains 1.5L and is equivalent to two regular sized 750ml bottles, is a common size that is easier to purchase than most would think. Large format does not necessarily have to translate to big money. For example, a Double Magnum is 3L of wine (equivalent to four regular sized 750ml bottles). This is the typical size for that delicious cask (aka box) wine made by Andegavia from California. Large format bottles have better ageing potential than regular size bottles and will provide a ‘”WOW” factor at your gathering.
Plus, it’s a fun game to try to pronounce (and remember) the names of the various bottle sizes. Jerobaum is a 4.5L of still wine, Imperial 6L, Salmanazer 9L (this is a full case of wine!), Balthazar 12 L and Nebuchadnezzar 15L. These larger formats are harder to find—making them more unique and exciting—but are available through special order. Who better to help you find these treasures than you favorite wine retailer?
Patronize Your Local Bottle Shop
Boutique wine shops are able to provide you with personalized customer service and offer an educational component along with stocking your everyday wine staples. From your classic favorites to new arrivals and hard-to-find gems, it’s worth spending a little extra for the experience of buying wine in a well kept store with a team of wine professionals in your own backyard. This is where you can discover small producers and hand-selected wines that can be of great value. Taking advantage of the knowledgeable staff helps you be a more educated buyer, getting a great deal on an amazing wine no matter what the price. This also takes the hassle out of buying wine on-line, where you are unable to “try before you buy” and having to wait for it to arrive.
It’s Time to Party – Cheers!
Hosting a wine tasting party is a creative and engaging way to learn more about and experiment with your new wine discoveries. For the culinary inspired wine drinker, you may create a meal designed to pair with the wines. For a more casual approach, you can share your favorite wine with your so-called book club. Organizing a cheese and charcuterie tasting with your wine tasting party is the perfect pairing for highlighting food components that enhance the wine while capturing the social aspect that revolves around wine consumption.
The more studious wine aficionado, may want to host a Vertical Tasting that which highlights the same wine from various vintages; or a Horizontal Tasting which features similar wines from the same region, vintage, or even vineyard; or the challenge of a Blind Tasting where you know nothing about the wine being served but try to deduce what it is based on your wine tasting skills and techniques. Whatever you decide to do for your wine tasting event, the most important rule to remember is to keep the wine party fun!
Embark on a Wine Country Adventure
You need not travel far in order to take advantage of a winery experience. Wine production is currently undertaken in all fifty of the United States, as well as Canada and Mexico. This could mean a day trip to a small local producer or a weekend jaunt to wine festival in order to get a taste of several winery offerings in one day. Your options for wine country travel are unlimited and often include culinary classes with the winery resident chef, vinotherapie spas using grape based products, winery golf courses designed by some of golfing’s greatest who also produce wine under their own labels. You could also enjoy bike riding through Burgundy, running a marathon through Bordeaux (and stopping to sample the wine at world class Chateaux along the way), or a hot air balloon ride over the Willamette Valley. For those who want to get their hands in the dirt, you can enjoy a wine holiday by visiting an agriturismo in Italy where you stay amongst the vineyards at the winery and help with the production of wine.
No matter what your wine resolution will be for the end of this year, there is no better time to get started then now. Take time to enjoy the moments that are special to you and how they can revolve around wine. Whether it is watching the sunset at Madaket, gathering around the fireplace or entertaining in your home, a special bottle and the warmth and generosity of this holiday season will give us all something to Cheer!