Happy 2010! Here are my wine resolutions for the year — and my hopes for the world of wine over the next 12 months.
1. Get organized. I’m a little scattered when it comes to keeping my tasting notes all in one place. I just downloaded an iPhone app called Drync Wine, which lets me take notes and store label photos of what I’m drinking–and flag wines that I’m interested in trying next. I’ll let you guys know how it works out. Not to sound like your mom, but I’d encourage you to figure out some simple way to track your consumption and preferences, whether it’s an iPhone app, an Excel spreadsheet, or a little notebook. No need to get too fancy about it — just figure out an easy, unobtrusive way to record your thoughts. It’s the single biggest thing you can do to improve your wine knowledge.
2. Try something new. Once a week, I’m going to try a wine that falls outside my default France/Spain/Long Island/California repertoire. Tannat from Uruguay? South African Chenin Blanc? Greek Xinomavro? Bring it on. If you’re very serious about this — and really, what better thing to be serious about? — check out the Wine Century Club, which is open to people who have tasted at least 100 grape varieties. There’s a spreadsheet on the site you can use to track your progress. (I’m at 114, but who’s counting?)
3. Drink more sherry. I make this one every year, and each time I fall short. I love sherry, and it’s surprisingly versatile — and well-priced. One of my favorite Christmas presents is the Moro cookbook, from the Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant in London of the same name, so I’m hoping this will inspire me to cook even more sherry-friendly dishes. In June I’ll be taking my sherry/port/Madeira and sparkling wine exams as part of my never-ending diploma studies, so that will force me to do some more sherry drinking too.
Enough about me…here’s what I’m hoping to see from the wine world overall in 2010:
4. For prices to go down and everyone to get more for their money. As I mentioned before, we’re already seeing a welcome return to sanity in some California pricing. And I think that the overall quality of wines from Argentina and Chile, two sure-fire value destinations, is on the rise. Sauvignon Blanc fans, take note: there are some really strong examples of this wine coming out of Chile’s Leyda Valley that can go up against New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs for half the price.
5. For Australia to regain its footing. After its huge success with value wines in the 1990s, Australia lost its way a bit — right now it’s saddled with a reputation as a producer of cheap, undistinguished wines when the world is craving more sophisticated flavors. Recent environmental crises, like droughts and forest fires, haven’t helped. I have a soft spot for Australia for two reasons. First, those Australian wines of the 1990s — cheap, fun, fruity — were my on-ramp to the world of wine. That’s all I could afford, and the flavors (and, let’s be frank, sugar) were easy and welcoming. Second, Australia makes some incredible wines from Syrah and Riesling, my two favorite grapes. True, the style isn’t always to my liking, but I appreciate the diversity.
6. For the term “wine snob” to disappear. Yes, some people can be insufferable prigs about wine. But there are plenty of a-holes out there when it comes to a lot of things that take time and effort to master– say, woodworking — and you never hear anyone talking about carpentry snobs. Wine can be expensive, and there are elements of it that can be intimidating to the neophyte. But the snobbism comes from the person, not the beverage. There’s a lot of mysticism and romance surrounding it, but at the end of the day it’s a drink made from fermented grape juice that, when taken in moderation, makes our food tastier, our company livelier, and our evenings more convivial. Here’s wishing you and yours many tasty, lively, and convivial evenings in 2010!