The New Year is the time of year when we all reassess our lives and priorities and make promises to ourselves for the future.
By the start of February many of us have forgotten what we promised we’d do for the rest of the year; so why not rethink it a bit this time and make a New Year’s resolution which will be fun to keep, and which will improve your appreciation and enjoyment of the finer things in life?
If you enjoy drinking red wine there are a host of promises you can make to yourself which will make your wine drinking experience more enjoyable and enhance your knowledge about wine. Some of these you may already have or do but those that you don’t make 2013 the year that you do!
1. If you are not already part of a group set up a red wine tasting group with some friends or fellow enthusiasts. You don’t need to be wine experts to be part of a wine tasting group as it is more about sharing the experience. You will find yourself discovering a wider variety of red wines as well as learning to identify the characteristics of different wines.
2. Buy a selection of wine guides. There are a host of wine books available so choose carefully and buy a range of books by recognised and respected wine writers. A good selection could include a wine encyclopaedia, a book examining wine grapes; a pocket guide to the year’s recommended red wines and perhaps a guide to matching wine and food. Then make sure you read them and use them instead of leaving them to decorate the coffee table.
3. Buy some proper red wine glasses. Too many of us fail to get the best out of our red wine by drinking it from the wrong shaped glass. A good red wine glass should be made out of plain crystal or fine glass with a large bowl tapering to a narrower rim and with a narrow stem. It should allow you to swirl the wine without it spilling and to immerse your nose in the glass to get the full benefit of the bouquet.
4. Get into the habit of aerating your red wine by either decanting it or using an aerator. Simply opening the bottle an hour or so before drinking makes little difference as the neck of the bottle is too small to allow much air into the wine. Younger red wine benefits more from decanting than older wine although a very aged wine should always be decanted to get rid of the sediment.
5. Make your own tasting notes when you try a new bottle of red wine. As well as being fun, practice improves your nose and palate. Make sure you create a file for your notes so you can refer back to them. There’s nothing worse than remembering how much you enjoyed a bottle of wine but not being able to remember what it was called!
6. Practice matching wine with food. Refer to a book or one of the many websites available to start with until you begin to get an idea of which type of red wine works well with which sort of food. It won’t take long before you start to get confident enough to make your own matches.
7. If you are not already a member, consider joining a wine club. There are a variety of clubs catering for all levels of budget and expertise. A club can offer a wide range of red wine which you will not find in a supermarket or high street off licence, often from smaller wine producers. Often the wines come with useful in depth tasting notes and as your tastes and preferences become known you may find the wine club’s experts giving you suggestions for new wines to try.
8. Try to be more adventurous with your wine purchases. Rather than sticking with tried and trusted bottles take a gamble on something new. The worst that can happen is that you decide not to buy it again. You could promise yourself that you will try one new style of red wine each month.
9. Try to buy some red wine to lay down. Whilst it is always tempting to crack open a newly purchased bottle of wine try to resist with those reds which are recommended for aging. Remember the phrase “delayed gratification”. You may feel you are missing out by not being able to enjoy the wine now but think how excited you will feel in 10 years’ time when you open a long forgotten, dusty bottle.
10. Promise yourself that at least once this year, perhaps on a special occasion, you will buy a bottle of red wine which is way above your usual budget. Before you drink it ensure the wine has been aerated, is at the correct temperature and is poured into properly shaped glasses. Then enjoy!