Happy New Year! In the tradition of making new year’s resolutions, I’d like to propose a set of wine resolutions.
1. Expand your horizons
If you drink the same wines religiously:
- Try new varietals – For example, if you only drink Chardonnay, try Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.
- Try new producers and new regions – If you’re not ready to venture away from Chardonnay, try Chardonnays from different wineries and different regions (e.g., different parts of CA, France and Australia).
After a few months of research, you will probably be ready to add a bunch of new wines to your tried-and-true list. Of course, you might decide that your old favorites are still your old favorites. But in the mean time, you will have discovered many wonderful wines, and you will probably have a better appreciation of why your favorites are your favorites.
2. Say goodbye to intimidation
Many of us feel intimidated by wine. We assume that everybody knows more than we do. We feel embarrassed looking at a restaurant’s wine menu. We feel overwhelmed by the wine aisle at the grocery store. When somebody says, “Wow, that wine has a lot of tannin,” we sheepishly agree, even though we have no clue what tannin is.
It’s hard to enjoy wine when you feel intimidated.
In the new year, I encourage you to say goodbye to wine intimidation. If you don’t know a term that somebody uses, don’t sweat it. Ask the person for a definition. You’ll find that wine aficionados love to show off their wine knowledge. If you only like sweet wines, and your friends think that’s funny, laugh with them. After all, wine is meant for enjoyment.
If you are a wine expert, please share your knowledge and help others enjoy wine.
3. Become a student of wine
It’s so much fun to become really engaged in the tasting experience. Go into serious research mode. See if you can figure out what you’re smelling and tasting. Look for fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, chocolate, earth, leather and more. If you smell or taste a fruit, try to figure out what kind it is. Berry? Tropical fruit? Stone fruit? If you determine that it’s a stone fruit, is it apple, pear, peach, apricot or something else?
It’s very helpful to keep a wine journal with you and take notes each time you try a wine. In addition to taking notes on what you smell and taste, take notes on your experience of
- Acidity – if your mouth puckers, the wine is probably highly acidic
- Alcohol level – if the wine tastes “hot” or out of balance, it might be high in alcohol
- Tannin – if your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, the wine probably has a lot of tannin
- Finish – what you experience in your mouth after the wine is gone
- Mouthfeel – e.g., velvety, wooly, silky, oily
When trying a new varietal that you’re not familiar with, try several wines of that varietal to establish a baseline. For example, if you’re trying Pinot Noir for the first time, try four or five Pinots in a fairly short period and take notes on what you experience.
4. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy
In this fast-paced world where we often eat and drink on the run, slowing down to savor a delicious glass of wine is truly a gift. Take your time, involve all your senses, relax and really enjoy your wine-tasting bliss.