Resolve to be a better wine drinker

Resolve to be a better wine drinker in 2016. (Photo Credit: Jadon Barnes)

Resolve to be a better wine drinker in 2016. (Photo Credit: Jadon Barnes)

We’re all human. We make resolutions and then we get busy, family or work demands take over, and the resolutions are broken. Still, it’s worth making them, if only to serve as a bucket list of ‘wants’ to achieve for the year. You might achieve them, you might not, but if you’re going to make any resolutions for 2016, better to make them wine-related, am I right?

In no particular order, here are some ways to resolve to be a better wine drinker over the next 12 months. If you have your own to add, put them in the comments section so we can all benefit.

Here goes… resolve to:

Drink (at least one!) wine from a place you don’t know
This sounds pretty easy, but may not be, depending on your access to great wine stores. Resist the urge to go to the same-old same-old and instead pick an interesting, far-off place like the Canary Islands (Yes! They do make wine there and it is outstanding), Hungary or the Czech Republic, to name a few. Use a map or an app like Delectable to track your progress.

Gather friends and drink a magnum, or double-magnum/Jeroboam
Large format bottles are a lot of fun. They’re ideal for gatherings and celebrations because of the quantity they contain, but they also have the novelty factor. Large format bottles of sparkling wine, for example, are truly great for celebrations… nestled in an ice bucket, they’re inviting and feel bottomless. No rationing needed — drink, enjoy and be merry! Here’s a quick primer from my friend at Wine Folly.

Drink an older vintage wine
Granted, this is somewhat budget-dependent, but getting your hands on a wine that’s 20 or 30 or 40 years old is truly special. It gives you a very real, up-close-and-intimate look at why wine routinely changes peoples lives. Sure it’s just fermented grape juice, but a stunning vintage Burgundy, Rioja, Bordeaux or even California Cab is a gateway to understanding how this liquid magically changes, evolves and matures over time. It’s magical, mysterious and inspirational. Buy vintage wine from trusted sources, though, as proper storage is critical to wine’s longevity.

Drink more dessert wine
For many North Americans, dessert wine is often associated with ice wine, which can be exciting the first time (and maybe the second). But the worst part of limiting your repertoire to ice wine is that it’s such a tiny (and boring) slice of the dessert wine spectrum. If you’ve never had Sauternes, resolve to have this stunning wine, which features honeyed, gingered and saffron notes. If that’s over-budget, have a Vin Doux Naturel such as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise or Banyuls. But don’t just stop at those French options: try dessert wine from Spain (Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez come to mind) or Vin Santo from Italy, or the staggering Tokaj (pronounced toe-KAI) from Hungary. Even the ‘stickies’ from Australia will blow you away!

Take a wine course
The wine business, much like the car or real estate business, can prey on the ignorance of consumers. What do you mean when you ask for a medium-bodied versus a full-bodied wine? Do you actually like buttery California Chardonnay or is it that you’ve never tried Chablis? Is a wine with age better than a younger wine? These and much more are areas worth exploring to ensure you drink what you want in the budget you want each and every time. Whether its a two-hour workshop, a weekend course or something longer, get informed to drink better. Plus, you’ll meet fellow wine-lovers — what’s not to like? Finding a class is not as hard as it might seem. Increasingly, wine bars, restaurants, community colleges and culinary schools – recognizing the importance of wine on the culinary spectrum – are actively teaching courses that will help you become a better, more articulate, more savvy wine drinker. (Rustik Cottage is going to start offering limited courses. Stay tuned for that!)

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