What will 2016 bring to drinkers of wine?
Wandering around a near-deserted Crossroads Fitness earlier this week, I heard a distant voice say, “Don’t worry. Next week all the New Year’s resolutions will kick in and this place will be packed.”
Making a New Year’s resolution about wine is like promising to lose weight or improve your math — without an occasional reminder, we forget what path we’re on.
What path will your wine world take in 2016?
You could drink more, meaning not in quantity but rather in quality, but why do so unless you do it mindfully?
To me, that means paying attention not only to what’s in your glass today but what may be in it tomorrow and the other 363 tomorrows in 2016.
It includes being aware of the growers and the vintners and the grape varieties that bring you the juice to fill your glass.
You don’t need to be an expert, whatever that is, but simply a person who goes beyond quenching a thirst.
A couple of examples:
So-called “Grower Champagnes” became a bit of a rage in 2015 when Champagne lovers turned away from mass-produced Champagnes from the better-known big houses and instead focused on wines made by the same estate that owns the vineyards (rather than buying the grapes to make the wine).
The theory is that these growers/vintners would know better how to make the best wine possible from homegrown grapes.
And at times, they do.
Yet a show of hands reveals the better Champagnes often are made from a blend of grapes from top vineyards and the most-consistent wines come from the big Champagne houses.
That same goes for any wine. You can follow what’s trending, which is fine as long as you know why you’re following it and what it is you’re looking for.
Drink Pinot Grigio? It’s the second-most popular white wine (behind Chardonnay) in America even though most of the stuff poured at bars and restaurants is awful. It’s cheap (to pour) and generally forgettable stuff.
But good Pinot Grigio (and Pinot Gris, the French name) can be charming and satisfying, ranging from the full-bodied, spice and stone-fruit wines of Alsace, France, to the luminous acidity of peach and nectarine from Northern Italy and the pear, ginger and allspice notes of Pinot Gris from J Vineyards in California.
If you know what Pinot Grigio should taste like, you won’t be satisfied with the norm.
Perhaps you like the science side of wine and winemaking?
Erika Szymanski is studying for her doctorate in microbial enology and in her spare time writes the scientifically leaning blog Wine-o-scope, which she describes as a wine geek keeping notes. Her latest column for the online wine magazine, The Palate Press, is titled “Some science behind canned wines.”
Which brings us to taking notes.
Nothing fancy or complicated, maybe no more than few words scribbled on a label, but a reminder of what you liked or didn’t like about a particular wine.
Rick Rozelle at Fisher’s Liquor Barn loves to recount stories about people asking for a “wine like the one I had last night.”
“Sometimes all they remember is that it was red or white,” Rozelle said. “It’s tough to find the right one.”
A few simple notes, either by hand or using one of the apps available for your smartphone (don’t forget the phone’s camera), will make wine in 2016 much easier to remember.