By Charles B. Rubinstein
A good resolution is like an old horse,
which is often saddled but rarely ridden.
– Mexican Proverb
Each January I usually try to foretell what will happen in the world of wine in the forthcoming year. A fair number of my predictions have come true, but this year I have decided to depart from that format to propose nine New Year’s Resolutions for wine lovers. Be forewarned that the statistics about resolutions are not encouraging.
A recent study published in the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology states that 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions and only 8 percent are successful in achieving their resolution. I think that we can improve on that abysmal success rate if we keep in mind that the resolutions are focused on enjoying wine more fully and they don’t require much effort to fulfill. None of the following resolutions are a chore. With that in mind, let’s proceed.
First and foremost resolve to make wine a part of your meal. Don’t think of wine as an afterthought when you sit down to enjoy your dinner. Wine has a place at the table alongside the food. A single glass will do for starters. What wine you choose is up to you.
Diversify. Choose a different wine to drink as often as you can. At least once every two weeks try wines from regions that you haven’t previously explored. Step outside your comfort zone when choosing a wine to drink, whether in a restaurant or at home.
Drink a glass of sparkling wine at least once a week. Too many wine drinkers save a bottle of sparkling wine for a special occasion. That approach is wrong. Instead, think of sparkling wine as making any occasion special.
Taste more. By that I mean try a small amount of a few wines at the same sitting. The best way to do this is in a restaurant or wine bar that serves flights of wine. The more you taste the more you learn.
Don’t be inordinately influenced by the ratings of critics. It’s your palate that’s important. Scores are not the be-all and end-all. Critics disagree among themselves so trust your own taste. I’ve been at too many parties where someone comes over to me with a glass of wine in hand and tells me the Parker or the Wine Spectator score. What they should be telling me is what they think of the wine.
Don’t drink a wine before its time. That’s a problem I rarely, if ever, have personally had because my cellar has an ample supply of older wines. When I retired from Bell Labs, I was presented with a plaque by my colleagues that listed 10 reasons why I retired. One of the reasons listed was that the older wines in my cellar were yelling: “It’s time. It’s time.” You don’t need all the bells and whistles in a cellar, or whatever substitutes for a cellar, to put some wines aside to age. The reward in enjoyment is great and the risk negligible. I’ve opened very few bottles that were truly way past their prime.
At least once during 2013 gather a few like-minded friends at your home and have a wine tasting. The choice of a theme is limited only by your imagination. Vertical tastings (the same wine from different vintages) are directed more at connoisseurs. Horizontal tastings (does not mean you drink Roman style lying down) contain the same type of wine from the same viticultural area, e.g., cabernet sauvignon from the Stags Leap District in California. Another idea is to choose a particular grape and taste wines containing that grape from different countries or different regions.
Resolve to read at least one good wine book written at a level appropriate to your knowledge of the subject.
Visit at least one winery where you can learn about how wine is made. A well run tasting room at the winery will add to your knowledge and enjoyment. You do not have to travel far to meet that goal. There are 40+ wineries in New Jersey and there is one fine example nearby, the Four JG’s Orchards & Vineyards in Colts Neck.
Enjoy and have a happy, healthy new year. If you have questions or comments about wine write to me at The Two River Times™ or email me at email@example.com.
Pick of the Bunch
2010 Spy Valley Pinot Noir, Marlborough ($23)
2007 Pio Cesare Barolo, Piedmont ($55)
2009 Beringer Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley ($55)
2010 Bogle Chardonnay, California ($9)
2009 Château Lanessan, Haut Médoc ($25)
2009 Château d’Epire Savennières Cuvée Spéciale, Loire ($25)