Happy New Year. With the new year now stretching out before us, we’ve set out five resolutions that will suit any wine lover perfectly - and none mention the gym.
Will you be following any New Year’s resolutions around wine? Let us know via the comment section at the bottom of this article.
New Year’s resolutions for wine lovers:
1. Less is more
Dry January is a fad that seemed to be at its peak last year. It appeals to people’s health conscience, which has taken a battering over Christmas and New Year. It is no coincidence that the UK government chose 1 January 2016 to release its new guidelines into alcohol intake in an attempt to have maximum effect.
For a wine lover, all this can be miserable reading. January is a long, dark month that certainly does not need wine taken away from it. In my opinion, there is a way to strike a vinous balance:
First, calculate your weekly wine spend. For an example, let’s use £60 or $90 on 6 bottles – £10 ($15) a bottle. My new year’s resolution is to spend exactly the same amount but buy better quality wine. As the sayings go, less is more, quality over quantity. This will give some excellent results:
- We’ll be halving our alcohol consumption during January. This goes a long way towards balance rather than having to endure a “dry January”. Of course, we’d have at least two days off during the week – UK government guidelines.
- We’ll be halving our calorie intake (in my opinion, a form of a wine lover’s diet).
- After a long week at work, we can look forward to Friday safe in the knowing that we’ll be pulling a cork, or turning the screwcap, on a £20 bottle of wine rather than our everyday £10. This could be the difference between a producer entry level wine and their top cuvee.
- We’ll be trying wines that we would not normally buy and therefore learning more about what we like.
- In the knowledge that we will be drinking better quality wine, less often, this will make us consider what we are cooking. This extra effort always has the knock-on effect of purchasing better quality ingredients, eating healthier food and enjoying food and wine more.
2. Use your holidays to explore
‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’
Although this quote is taken from Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird, the same quote could not be truer than when applied to a winemaker and his wine grapes. Hence, when we look for our annual holiday in January, we are going to try and fit in a vineyard trip with our booking. It is the best way to get to know a wine and why it is how it is. There’s so many options. Skiing in February in the Dolomites? There’s the whole of Verona, the Alto Adige and Friuli to explore on your drive up into the mountains. A trip to the Trulli of Puglia – discover the Negroamaro grape. A gîte in the Languedoc-Roussillon – stop by St-Chinian AOC. Renting an apartment in San Francisco – the Napa is well worth a trip. This list could go on, so a Decanter.com New Year’s resolution will be to expand our travel section in 2016.
3. 2015 vintage promise
Decanter.com interviewed many producers in 2015 across the major wine regions delving into the 2015 vintage. Universally, the rhetoric deemed the vintage good to excellent. This is fantastic news for the growers who have suffered with average harvests in recent years. My eyes will almost certainly be on the Bordeaux 2015 en primeur campaign. It will be a fascinating year; pricing will be key and interest will be the highest since 2010. Will 2015 live up to the early hype? A great resolution will be to find out.
4. Try more wine
We’re lucky enough to try many different wines, from many different regions. Some are wonderful whilst others are instantly forgettable. Each year there is always a grape which captures the popular imagination. Some go on to be staple wines, such as Pinot Grigio then Marlborough Sauvignon, whilst others fade away. In the UK, Spain is leading the charge in bringing to our attention new wines. In 2013-2014, it was the white wine Albariño, from the Rías Baixas region in the north west of Spain that was first on bar list and is now in the supermarkets.
In 2014-2015, the North West of Spain was at it again with the rise of the red wine Bierzo and the white wine Godello. Every wine lover’s New Year’s resolution should be to try new wines and find new producers, regions and grapes they like – then be evangelical about them. With any luck, you may find it in a good restaurant, then in a wine merchant and finally in a supermarket. However, by the time it is there, you will have found another wine to tell your friends about.
How to spot a possible trend:
- The wine over delivers at £10-£15 $15-$20 price point
- It can be pronounced in English – sad but true in most cases
- The region can produce enough for the mass market for under £10
What is my money on? Albillo, a white wine from Spain, follows all the recent rules and I’ve tried fantastic examples recently but the truth is, I just don’t know. The only option is to stick to the New Year’s resolution to try more wine.
Alternatively, you could expand your wine knowledge by enrolling on a wine course. We’ve had three journalists reporting from the WSET Level Two course in the UK, US and China for the past few weeks.
5. Support Local Merchants
Supermarkets have a lot of power in the wine business and do a fine job at delivering for the everyday consumer. That is simply not enough for us wine lovers, especially when our New Year’s resolutions are to:
- buy less but better wine
- find wine regions we can visit
- taste the 2015 vintage
- to try more wine
We need a good wine merchant who will be invaluable to us through 2016. Without our support, the numbers will fall and we could end up with a 2017 with less interesting wine available to us. Unthinkable.
Here’s to a year of good wine.
Harry Fawkes is digital publisher at Decanter