In addition to being timely – which I still clearly need to work on – I made several resolutions for 2019. Not surprisingly, many are wine related. And while these might be more enjoyable to accomplish than my other annual goals (such as running “x” miles by year end, eating more greens, and limiting my screen time) they are by no means a slam dunk.
Find more daily drinkers. I want to find more (enjoyable!) wines in the $20 and under range. So, this means purchasing less Champagne, Oregon Pinot and Northern Rhône Syrah – and more from undervalued wine regions like the Loire Valley, Chile and Portugal. It also means exploring some obscure varietals that don’t command the prices of many popular, international varieties – so hello Pinotage, Zweigelt, and Godello!
A producer’s entry level or a region’s “second wine” can also be great daily drinker values. I recently had a Rosso di Montalcino – considered to be the first example of a “second wine” concept in Italy. The Rosso di Montalcino zone of production is exactly the same as the more prestigious Brunello di Montalcino. However, Rosso di Montalcino is released earlier – so these wines are more fruit forward, easygoing and approachable than Brunello. There is also no mandatory oak aging requirement and the price tag is usually much lower. This one was full of floral and bright red fruit aromas, paired deliciously with lasagna and was under $20.
Stop waiting for special occasions to open up the good stuff! While I don’t have too many “daily drinkers” in my collection at the moment, I do have a number of bottles that I feel warrant some type of major event in order to justify opening them. By no means am I bottle-bragging – I’ll never have that type of cellar – but bottles like Gramercy Reserve Cabernets and Syrahs, Quilceda Creek, Tignanello, Sassicaia, and wines from our travels to the Rhône and Burgundy have a more special place in my heart. Oh yeah, and I would probably add to that list the Pol Roger ‘Winston Churchill’ that I might have just ordered.
These wines aren’t something I usually open on a Tuesday night to pair with my comfort food dishes . . . but – why not? Why not make a mundane Tuesday eve (sorry Tuesdays, I honestly don’t mean to pick on you) a little less so? What exactly am I waiting for? I plan to change this in the coming year and open some of these “special occasion” wines when it is in fact NOT a special occasion. Because as Maya said to Miles in the movie Sideways: the day you open a ‘61 Cheval Blanc… that’s the special occasion.
Keep up the Studying. As I’ve said before, I’m not pursuing wine certifications so that I can end up having an alphabet soup of letters after my name. I simply love learning about wine and am more disciplined about it if I have some structure . Otherwise, I tend to dive deep into a series of rabbit holes that I struggle to get out of – such as trying to figure out the 65 soil types of the Ancient Lakes AVA and who are the 80+ owners of Vougeot. You know, important need-to-know shit.
In 2019, I’m hoping to obtain my Italian Wine Scholar certification (results expected in February!), get through at least 4 of the 6 Units of the WSET Diploma, and perhaps pursue another Wine Scholar Guild Master Level Course. I’m leaning towards their Bordeaux course since this region is quickly replacing Italy as my “Achilles’ heel.” (Sidenote: I know that I will be afflicted with this “ailment” throughout my entire wine studying life . . . which is one of the reasons I love doing what I do. There will ALWAYS be something to learn!)
Improve my tasting notes. I think of this goal as kind of a “mindful drinking” type of thing. Basically, I need to pay more attention to what’s in my glass. Sitting down and focusing on a wine’s aromas, structure, and quality helps immensely with the whole study process. And as I continue to pursue the WSET Diploma, I should get to the level where I’m able to write a tasting note that meets an examiner’s criteria in my sleep.
I’m not a huge fan of publishing tasting notes – I think they’re boring and ubiquitous, so I won’t be doing that (did I just hear a collective sigh of relief?). But I do have a beautiful tasting notebook for me to keep track of my thoughts. I just need to bring it out more often – at least a couple times a week.
Have FUN with wine. If I allow it to, studying wine can dominate my life. It’s currently the focus of my school, upcoming travels, and honestly, quite a bit of my social activity. I don’t want to get so caught up in the study of wine that I forget to enjoy it. Sometimes, I need to just have a glass and drink it – not analyze it (fortunately, this is Hubs’ strong suit!).
So on THAT note, I’m going to sign off, finish that daily drinker bottle of Rosso di Montalcino and binge watch last season’s Better Call Saul!
Cheers to a delicious 2019!!