Five Ways to Make This Your Best Year in Wine
You might not have any wine “resolutions” for 2022—or any resolutions at all—but setting a casual goal or two around wine might improve your overall drinking enjoyment.
What does a wine resolution look like? You can start by considering what would make wine a more pleasurable experience for you personally. Maybe it’s a better understanding of how wine is produced, or a deeper sense of what flavor profiles suit you best.
There’s no “right” way to taste wine and there’s no “right” wine to like, but as succinctly put by sommelier Meghan McNamara on personal blog: “Ultimately, the more you know, the more your personal tastes and experience will shape the way you perceive a wine.”
Below are five ideas to get you started on the path to making this your best year in wine yet.
1. How did this wine get made? One area that will immediately boost your understanding—and by extension, your enjoyment—of wine is considering how it was made. If sustainability is important to you, perhaps learning about the philosophy and practices behind organic and biodynamic viticulture will be of interest. Or maybe you’re curious about why some grapes are grown in certain places (Riesling = Germany) and not others (Riesling ≠ Spain), or just what, exactly, is meant by extended skin contact. Diving into the process behind what goes into your glass is an instant confidence booster and can also make you feel like a savvier wine drinker.
2. Figure out what you like. Knowing which wine styles you prefer and perhaps even more importantly, which styles you don’t, is a major step toward getting the most out of your bottles. Keeping a wine journal is an easy way to decipher which flavor profiles you gravitate to most. This doesn’t have to be complicated—a notebook or even just a sheet of paper that lives next to your corkscrew can serve as a prompt to jot down a few first impressions. Was the wine crisp? dry? sour? fruity? mouthwatering? After a month or two, look back to see if any grape varieties, styles, or regions emerge as more or less liked, and drink more of those. Or alternatively…
3. Challenge your palate. If you find yourself gravitating to the same wine(s) over and over again, make this the year you branch out of your comfort zone. Every week or month, choose a wine you’re unfamiliar with or normally wouldn’t select, just to try it out. Maybe it’s a grape variety you normally avoid or a wine from a new-to-you region. Here as well, keeping a few notes can be helpful and you might discover new favorites to add to your rotation. You could also play along with Wine Folly’s Wine Tasting Challenge, which has prompts for trying a new wine every week for 34 weeks.
4. Strengthen your wine toolkit. It can be hard to sift through all of the information and jargon surrounding wine without feeling like you need a doctorate to fully enjoy the experience. But stocking your wine toolkit with a few foundational utensils can go a long way toward helping you determine what's important for you and what's not. One is vocabulary—in any area of interest, we connect better when we share the same language. Brushing up on commonly used wine terminology not only helps you connect with other aficionados, but also helps you describe what you like (or dislike) about wine.
Another is using a more systemic approach to tasting. Many wine pros will sample wines and evaluate them based on specific elements—these can include appearance, smell, and taste, among others. This method is intended to provide common ground for discussion, as well as help you identify specific wine characteristics while tasting.
5. Drink better wine! How this is defined is completely up to you. You could bump up your Burgundy quality level from villages to premier cru occasionally. Maybe you finally break out a few of those bottles you’ve been “saving” for a special occasion. Get together with a few friends to share a bottle that has special meaning for all of you. Buy the bottles with the most beautiful labels. Whatever brings you the most enjoyment when you pop the cork, bring more of that into your wine life.