I love New Year’s – a good excuse to drink bubbly, but I hate the idea of making new year’s resolutions, don’t you? Instead I’m going to follow what fashion icon Diana Vreeland, the legendary Vogue editor-in-chief (pre-Anna Wintour) would say about fashion rules. Prior to her years at Vogue, Vreeland wrote a column for Harper’s Bazaar titled “Why Don’t You…” So with that inspiration, here are my top 10 suggestions (non-resolutions) for the year 2012 in wine.
1. Why don’t you stop buying wine based on points. Did you know some wineries (and very good ones at that) just don’t submit their wines for reviews. That doesn’t mean they’re not good. You don’t need an almighty critic to tell you what to drink. Buying independent of scores can yield delicious and inexpensive surprises.
2, Why don’t you order the least expensive bottle on the restaurant wine list. They won’t put plonk on that list, and often the less expensive bottles are favorites of the wine director or sommelier. No one at the table needs to know, but you can share the price once everyone has tried the wine and loves it.
3. Why don’t you buy a wine just because you like the label. I certainly do. Wineries spend a lot of time and money coming up with clever names and images on the label. For some time “critter” labels were all the rage. Now it’s what I call “dessert” labels – wines like Layer Cake, Cupcake, Coffee Cake, etc. – all there to tempt you. Usually you discover the wine inside is pretty decent too.
4. Why don’t you drink local for at least a month. Wine is made in all 50 states. If you live in Missouri and haven’t tried the state’s wines, you are missing out. Yes this is harder to do in Hawaii or Alaska. If you live in a state where it is a challenge to find the local wines, or in a state with very few wineries, then check out wine from neighboring states. If you travel internationally you’ll find that the restaurants, especially the mom and pop places only serve local wines.
5. Why don’t you proudly buy boxed wine. The quality of wine in a box is improving and you can now find very drinkable wines. The bag-in-box technology keeps the wine fresh much longer after opening, up to a month (although I’ve never gotten past two weeks). You get the equivalent of 4 bottles in one box for a lot less money. Great for parties or your every day house wine.
6. Why don’t you explore a new wine region. Instead of Napa Valley, head to Livermore Valley or Lake County in northern California. In New York visit the Finger Lakes region. You’ll find less crowded tasting rooms (if there even is one) and most likely you’ll get to spend time with the winemaker. If traveling there isn’t an option, you can still pick up bottles from these regions in your local wine shop.
7. Why don’t you pop the cork on sparkling wine more often. Why reserve bubbles for special occasions? While Champagne is pricey, the sparkling wines Cava and Prosecco are very affordable, as are American sparklers. Cava (from Spain) and sparkling wines from the U.S.are made by the same traditional method that is behind the great Champagnes of the world. Prosecco (from Italy) is made by another method called Charmat, where the second fermentation that produces the bubbles takes place in large tanks, versus in the bottle as in the case of Champagne, Cava and American sparkling wines. Seek out these bubbles as every day wines, and not just for celebrations.
8. Why don’t you have a good laugh over a wine blog. Even wine bloggers take themselves too seriously at times. But not the Hosemaster of Wine . You’ve got to read Parkenstein Parts 1 and 11. This is definitely rated R but totally funny.
9. Why don’t you stop saying you don’t know anything about wine (especially around me). If you drink wine and like it that’s all you need to know to enjoy what’s in your glass. I promise I won’t quiz you about it.
10. And if you are a wine professional…why don’t you stop making people feel intimidated by wine. Many people in the wine biz, from winemakers to retailers and restauranteurs are much more laid back in regards to wine. Blue jeans have replaced the more formal suit and tie uniform. But why are drinkers, from beginners to more experienced ones still intimidated by wine? Why don’t you make it your mission to help at least one person feel great about buying and drinking wine this year.