Early January is the perfect time to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the new one. For those of us who take wine seriously — or at least want to — it’s smart to include wine in our New Year’s resolutions. So here are three simple resolutions that’ll heighten your wine appreciation in 2012.
There are countless ways to learn about wine. Books are great, as you can move at your own pace. If you’re a budding oenophile, pick up a copy of Kevin Zraly’s “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.” If you’re already somewhat advanced, make sure you have a copy of “The Oxford Companion to Wine” on your bookshelf. Edited by celebrated British wine writer Jancis Robinson, it’s considered the world’s most comprehensive wine encyclopedia.
Wine courses are also a great way to learn – and they’re typically lots of fun. There are plenty of excellent options across the country, but if possible, look for a school that’s affiliated with the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust. For good reason, it’s recognized across the world.
2. Be Adventurous
If you like red wines, you’re probably drinking lots of Cabernet Sauvignon. If you prefer whites, you’re probably drinking Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Either way, most of it’s probably coming from California. In 2012, resolve to explore the unfamiliar by trying unusual grapes from unusual regions.
If you like Chardonnay, consider Virginia Viognier or South African Chenin Blanc. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, try Torrontes, from Argentinia, or Albarino, from Portugal. If you’re a red wine drinker, consider ordering Argentinian Malbec or Chilean Carmenere. And don’t be afraid to drink Merlot – even if it’s from California. It’s become cool to bash the grape, but it’s often as rich as Cabernet Sauvignon and more approachable when young.
3. Serve Wine at the Right Temperature
Most people – and even most restaurants – serve red wines too warm and white wines too cold. When red wine is served at “room temperature” – which tends to hover at around 72 degrees – it can taste rough and alcoholic. When white wine comes straight out of the refrigerator, it’s refreshing – but can be tasteless. This is unfortunate. If you’re spending money on wine, you deserve to enjoy its aromas and flavors.
Fortunately, you don’t need a fancy thermometer to serve wine at its optimal temperature. If you’re drinking a red wine, pop it in the fridge for 25-30 minutes. If you’re drinking a white wine, pull it out of the fridge about 25-30 minutes before you’re going to drink it. Just remember that while it’s easy to warm up a wine that’s served too cold (just wait longer), it’s nearly impossible to chill a wine that’s served too warm.
The list of resolutions could easily go on.
If you’re interested in seeing the wine-making process and meeting with vintners, it’s hard to beat a wine trip — whether it’s a day at two local vineyards or a weekend getaway to wine country. If you’re serious about wine appreciation, then you should keep a diary — it’s the best way to keep track of your discoveries and remember which wines you’ve enjoyed. And everyone should resolve to drink more sparkling wine — it matches any number of dishes, so shouldn’t be relegated to celebrations.
The world of wine offers endless possibilities. So regardless of which resolutions you make – and which resolutions you keep – just make sure wine is a part of your life in 2012!
David White, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com.