Monday, January 5, 2009

Tasty Resolutions

"Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly."

W.E.P. French (From the wine list of Commander's Palace, New Orleans)

Dottie Gaiter and John Brecher with the WSJ have come out with their 2009 wine resolutions for more enjoyable wine experiences in the new year. I thought the list was worth sharing as there are more than a few good suggestions to broaden just about everyone's wine IQ. Here's a link to a video with a few of their recommendations, and here's a summary of all 20 with a few of my own suggestions:

1) Try a Wine From a Different Country - India, Canada, Hungary, Turkey, Mexico, why not?

2) Go to a Wine Bar and Have a Flight of Wine - Try to stick to a solid theme, not just red or white, maybe Chardonay from different countries, Syrah vs. Shiraz, etc.

3) Order the Cheapest Wine on a Restaurant's Wine List - I have several friends in the industry and they continually chide me to do this, they say that it's the wine they usually drink at home. For the worst value on the list, do what I used to do when I first started ordering wine in restaurants, and order the second or third cheapest, it's sure to have the highest mark-up.

4) Open a Sparkler at Home for No Reason at All - Or loosely define what it is to be a "reason", like the fact that it's Thursday or you finally got your oil changed. Try Prosecco or Cava if you haven't.

5) Take Notes on a Fine Wine From Beginning to End - Or at least talk about it beyond the obligatory this is good (or not so good).

6) Have a Sauternes - Be careful with this one if you have a sweet tooth, you may develop cravings for the stuff. I'd recommend creme brulee or berries and cream with this. If you're a stict chocolatist (ie it's not dessert unless it's chocolate) open a bottle of Late Bottle Vintage port, it's delicious and surprisingly affordable.

7) Have a Blind Tasting - or attend one. My favorite wine merchant offers these several times during the year and it's always fun trying to guess which is the most expensive, or Spain vs. France.

8) Organize Your Labels - I've never been good at removing labels from bottles in the first place, but take pictures of wines you've just enjoyed, it makes you more likely to go searching out for them later.

9) Visit the Closest Winery to Your Home - If you live in Atlanta, I'm sorry (Chateu Elan is not good, at all).

10) Attend a Winemaker's Dinner at a Restaurant - This is definitely on my 2009 To Do List.

11) Have Fun With Stemware - Ever since the Riedel O glasses I've become a strict stemware traditionalist after suffering through warm white wines at entirely too many "trendy" restaurants who adopted these glasses. I'd suggest buying vintage or antique, or acquiring specialty glasses for a beverage you enjoy but in the "wrong" glass (port, grappa, scotch, absinthe).

12) Find a New Wine Store - preferably not a big box store

13) Try a Varietal You've Never Had From a U.S. Winery - I'm looking for a U.S. produced Torrontes at the moment.

14a) Either: Have 12 Different Bottles in the House at Once - I haven't had this few since college

14b) Or: Drink Up - I'm working on it, my 2009 resolution is to serve what I have at more dinner parties rather than going out to look for something new.

15) Go Crazy on a Wine Pairing for Dinner Some Night - I'd suggest having a back up bottle of Pinot Blanc in case the Malbec really isn't a good idea with trout.

16) Try an Older White - Sauternes and Champage are the obvious choices, but look for something different. Your best bets are probably old world: France, Germany, Austria, rather than new world wines which really aren't intended to age, though you might find a precious few that are more enjoyable than within a few years of their bottling.

17) Try a Type of Wine You Think You Don't Like - For me this would be Muscat or to a lesser degree Merlot. I'll give it another try with the dreaded Muscat.

18) Get a New Corkscrew - Unless you were fortunate and received one over the holidays, chances are yours doesn't work like it used to.

19) Serve a Dessert Wine to Guests - They may love it and you've created a new ritual. If not you've at least given it a try. I find the key is not to combine dessert wine with really heavy desserts, but instead fruit and nuts.

20) Shatter Your Price Limit - I'm not sure 2009 is the year to try this for most folks. What I would suggest is buy a bottle at a store for what you'd pay in a restaurant, $35, 50, 75... The mark-ups in restaurants are usually 100-200% so if you're like me you'll probably be spending a fair bit more on a bottle at retail than you normally would but getting a much better deal, think $70, 100, or 150.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Pigtown-Design said...

Last year, we did a wine tasting. Put all of the wines in brown bags, tasted all of them. Chose the least expensive!

Athenaeus said...

That's alright, you were just ahead of your time. It's time to go out and buy that bottle for 2009.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Hurrah for No. 4! It will change your outlook at once. I would also add: try a half bottle of wine (or champagne!) with a lunch one day. Petty troubles melt away.

Athenaeus said...

I do miss wine at lunch, it's one of the great perks of working from home (or Europe).