I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and toasted to 2016 with something special.
Now that we’re well into the new year, perhaps your thoughts have turned, as mine have, to your resolutions. I’m sure we’re all going to exercise more, eat healthier and tell the people we love how much we value them more often. But there should be some wine-related resolutions on your list, too. And unlike those others, they might be easier to keep because, well, they involve wine!
Here are the eight wine resolutions you should keep this year.
1. Try new things: It should go without saying, but part of what makes wine so exciting is that there is so much of it that is so diverse from a wide variety of places around the world. It’s easy to get in a rut when it comes to wine, and just gravitate toward the same few bottles at your local store every time you go in. But talk to the folks in your wine shop, broaden your horizons, and try some new things. Who knows? You might just find a few new favorites.
2. Write down what you drink: I have a theory that the biggest thing that separates the average wine drinker from wine professionals is the fact that professionals write down the wines they taste. Sure, there’s a lot more to it than that, but this one simple step will help you keep track of the wines you try, which ones you like and which you shy away from, and will help you determine what new things you might like to try in the future (see resolution #1 above). You don’t have to get a fancy wine journal or anything. Just make notes in your smartphone’s note app, or get one of the myriad wine-tasting apps that are out there, many of which are free.
3. Start a collection: You might not have a massive subterranean wine cellar, or even a wine fridge. But that’s no reason you can’t start your own wine collection. Start small and purchase a nice bottle or two each month. Before you know it, your collection will be bigger than you think, and you’ll always have something good on hand in case guests drop by or you get a last-minute invitation to a dinner party.
4. Join a wine club: I’m not talking about random wine-of-the-month clubs, but if you try a wine you really like at a restaurant or just at a party and write it down (see #2 above), look it up later. Likely the winery will have its own wine club that you can join, and that way, you get to try more of their productions at regular intervals when they ship them to you. Or hey, make a trip out of it by traveling to the winery to pick up your allotment yourself!
5. Start a tasting club with friends: One of the best things about wine is that it brings people together and gets the conversation flowing. Think about how often you make plans to meet up with friends for drinks anyway, and skip one of those happy hours to round up a few folks and try some new wines together. It’s what I like to think of as productive drinking. Not only is it a great excuse to see your friends and bond over a shared interest, but you also get to try more wines than you would otherwise.
6. Get nice glasses and a decanter: You’re interested in wine. You don’t live with eight clumsy roommates anymore. Your mismatched bohemian chic bistro-style wineglasses just don’t cut it at this point. It’s time to invest in a nice set of wineglasses and a decanter. Having nice wineglasses elevates the wine-drinking experience, it helps you smell and taste the wine better, and having a decanter around will be handy for any last-minute aerating needs that might come up. Having these accouterments tells the world you’re a grownup and you take wine seriously.
7. Think about wine-food pairings more: Whereas in many other wine cultures, notably those of Europe, you wouldn’t talk about wine without discussing the food it goes with (and vice versa), in American wine culture specifically, we tend to downplay the importance of food pairings outside a restaurant setting. But one of my resolutions this year is going to be buying bottles of wine with specific dishes in mind to pair them with. Both the wine and the food will taste all the better for it.
8. Go to a new wine region: I’ve saved the biggest one for last. Sure, in the U.S. we get just two weeks of vacation a year, but why not put at least a few of those saved-up days toward visiting a wine region? You don’t have to venture all the way to Australia or South Africa or Slovenia (though you should try to!). With wineries in all 50 states, and plenty close to major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and even New York City, you can pull off a wine-country visit over a weekend, or just a single day. So head to the vineyards and see where it all begins!
Those are my eight wine-related resolutions for 2016. What are some of yours? Tell me by tweeting me @clustercrush!