Some wine related New Year’s resolutions.
By Louis Marmon
Gazette Newspapers January 18, 2006
Nowhere does it say that New Year’s resolutions have to be limited to diet and exercise. For those who wish to enhance their wine experience and knowledge, here are some wine-related ones.
*Use better glassware. The evaporation of chemicals contributes to wine’s aroma and taste. A properly shaped glass will focus these compounds and enhance the flavors. Try the Riedel ‘‘O” Series, a stemless tumbler ($20 a pair) that is break-resistant and comes in various wine specific shapes.
*OTBN. While most wine should be consumed within a few years after its release, many of us have bottles that we have been schlepping from house to house for decades awaiting the ‘‘special occasion” that never seems to arrive. The brainchild of Wall Street Journal wine writers John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) addresses that ‘‘special” bottle. For the past seven years, they have designated a date for their readers to uncork a bottle they have been saving. Basically an excuse to enjoy a great (or sometimes over-the-hill) bottle with friends or family, this year’s OTBN is Feb. 25. Just be sure to bring a second bottle as backup.
*Try a Spanish wine. Investments in modern equipment and updated winemaking techniques have produced a bounty of reasonably priced, high-quality Spanish wines. The value-priced Priorat Mas del Frares 2003 ($14) is gorgeous, while Rioja Lealtanza Crianza 2001 ($20) is silky smooth with berry and anise flavors.
*Read a wine book. Look for ones like Paul Lukacs’ ‘‘The Great Wines of America” that tell a good story and avoid jargon.
*Attend a wine tasting. Many local wine stores sponsor tastings. Finewine.com, with locations in Maryland and Virginia, offers both free tastings most every Saturday afternoon as well as evening events such as ‘‘Intro to Wine Tasting” and ‘‘Classic California Reds” for a small fee.
*Drink more Champagne. Don’t just wait for a particular occasion or holiday. Champagne and other sparkling wines are food-friendly (think pasta or chicken with a light sauce) and also an excellent aperitif. Try the floral and citrus flavored Duval-Leroy NV ($30) or the nicely structured Argyle Brut NV ($22) that has peach and lemon notes.
*Visit a winery. The best way to appreciate the importance of weather, location and technique is to see where wine is made. An ideal visit would include a conversation with the wine maker and a taste of the wine aging in barrels.
*Try a dessert wine. Most people think wine has to be dry. But some of the world’s most desired wines are sweet with plenty of other flavors and are a perfect way to end a meal. Taste an Australian Muscat or Late Harvest Semillon.
*2000 Bordeaux. France’s Bordeaux region had a stellar 2000 growing season. The well-known ‘‘classified” wines are expensive and meant to be stored for years before consumption. But the lesser known Chateau also produced very good wines that are reasonably priced and can be enjoyed now. Examples are Poujeaux ($29), Beau-Site ($18) and Colombier-Monpelou ($20).
*Host a wine tasting. The best way to appreciate the difference between wines is to open more than one. Have some friends each bring a bottle focused on a designated theme such as ‘‘Zinfandel over $15.” Provide the glasses, some food, a spill bucket (to encourage tasting) and paper and pens for notes. Then vote on the best, second best and worst wine of the evening.