Let 2016 be the year you up your wine game. You know, really “crush” it.
Here are five simple resolutions that will transform you into a wine connoisseur this year.
1. Explore a grape or region you’ve never tried before
Defaulting to Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon every time doesn’t make for a fulfilled wine life. Expand your wine horizons with these lesser-known grapes and regions to start your year of new flavours.
- Grapes: Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Gamay Noir, Grenache, Dolcetto, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo
- Regions: Piedmonte, Italy; Rheingau, Germany; All of Portugal; Yarra Valley, Australia; Loire Valley, France; Vancouver Island
For even more ideas, you should…
2. Start a relationship with a wine shop or sommelier
Introduce yourself to the sommelier at the restaurant or wine store and tell them you plan to try new wines. Give them a budget, a few words about what you’ve enjoyed in the past, and check in regularly with feedback. Before you know it, you’ll be greeted by name with a curated list of new discoveries.
My most inspiring partnerships have been with passionate local shops like Marquis Wine Cellars, Liberty Wine Merchants, and Kitsilano Wine Cellars. And hey, here’s your personal invitation to crush my inbox with questions: Email me! (I may regret this…)
Now that your palate is experiencing all these new flavours, it’s time to start experimenting and…
3. Taste wine with EVERYTHING!
Some of the most compelling food and wine harmonies come from unexpected places. Sip some fresh lemon juice and follow that up with a taste of wine. Did you experience why acidity is SO important in food and wine pairing? Now try a taste of Sriracha or hot sauce before the wine. Did the wine flare up to scorch your palate or did it cuddle the spice? Taste tests like these will influence how you choose wine at home, at a Thai restaurant or with Indian or Szechuan takeout.
You’ll want to remember and personalize these experiences (good and bad), so now it’s time to…
4. Start a wine journal
A wine worth sipping is a wine worth recording. There are many custom journals like the Moleskin Wine Journal, smartphone apps such as Vivino and Delectable, and websites like CellarTracker to catalogue your wine trials. I’ve found that a simple blank notebook works for me.
Consider the following for every wine:
- Where did you buy the wine?
- Who did you sip it with?
- What did it taste like?
- Was it a delicious match to the food?
- Would you buy it again?
- Would you gift it to a friend?
- Did it inspire you to do any follow-up reading about the winemaker, the vineyards or the region?
Yes? In that case, 2016 should be a year that you…
5. Build up your wine library
Other than actually traveling to the winery, reading the stories of the producers and regions is your best route to upgrading your relationship with wine. While there is a lot of free material on the internet, (Wine Folly and wineanorak.com are must-visits), dedicating a certain portion of your home bookshelf to wine is a fantastic idea.
Here are books two that profoundly influenced my view of wine:
- The Wine Bible by Karen McNeil. Appropriately named, this is I the first wine book I ever read and it is THE comprehensive resource to everything you would want to know in digestible and relatable terms.
- Reading Between the Wines by Terry Theise. The philosophy and the big questions. Why does wine matter? What role does wine play in a purposeful life?