Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Wine Resolutions 2008

Last year, I made a set of wine resolutions and I did pretty well. My Spanish wine adventures led me to enjoy wines made from grapes and in regions I never knew before. I drank lots and lots of sparkling wine and never got tired of it, I assure you. I beat back some of my Burgundy anxiety, although I'm more sure than ever that Burgundy is never going to be a big thing in my wine life--unless I win the lottery. I kept my wine costs down, spending on average just $14.31 per bottle of wine this year. (vintage New Year's card from ca. 1925)

What's in store for 2008? In addition to continuing to do what I'm already doing to find and evaluate great value everyday wines, I have a new set of wine resolutions that will shape the posts on this blog, and increase my wine knowledge over the coming year. Without further ado, here are my wine resolutions for 2008:

1. Read More Wine Books: There are a lot of great wine books out there, and to my embarrassment I've read relatively few of them. I own them; I just don't read them. I talked to some fellow wine bloggers and discovered they, too, had stacks of books that they wanted to read. So with a group of over a dozen bloggers we're starting a new online blogging event: a bi-monthly Wine Book Club. I'll announce the details and the first host on January 3, and your host will tell you what book is up first for discussion. This will work along similar lines to Wine Blogging Wednesdays, except that we're giving you 2 months to read the book and reviews and discussion will take place the last Tuesday of every other month (i.e. February, April, June, August, October, and December 2008). We hope that you will participate by joining us in reading some classic, new, and award-winning books. Unlike wine, you can get wine books everywhere--even your local library.

2. Get to know the wines of Italy.
I love Italy. I even read and speak Italian (but don't make me write it). So why are Italian wines such infrequent guests on my dinner table? I don't know the answer to that question, but I'm going to apply myself to getting to know Italian wines this year. With 21 separate regions and scores of indigenous grapes, it's going to be a fun resolution to keep and it may even take me two years to get from one end of Italy to the other. At my virtual side will be Terry Hughes, who writes the wonderful blog Mondosapore, and a stack of Italian wine books (some of which I may even read, see #1). I predict that by the end of the year Terry will dread finding my queries in his comments, but he was the inspiration for this year's geographic resolution, so hopefully he won't mind too much.

3. Finish out my Wine Century. The Wine Century Club is an organization of wine-lovers each of whom has tasted 100+ different grape varieties. Currently, I've tasted 85. The first 50 were easy, the next 35 fun but challenging, and the last 15--they required special purchases. So I've left no stone unturned, no shop unvisited, and have even managed to stay within my $20 ceiling and purchased varieties such as Romorantin, Teroldego and Nerella Mascalese . Happily, many of these varietals are Italian (see #2). Starting next week we'll be counting down the last 15 varietals to grape #100, so that I can put in my paperwork this spring. I highly encourage you to visit the site, get a form, and see where you are in your own Wine Century. It's fun, it' s a great way to learn more about wine, and you cross-train your palate with less familiar varietals and styles of wine making.

4. Dabble in Champagne without blowing my budget sky-high. Champagne, like Burgundy, does not play a large role in my wine life. To be honest, I find it daunting, and the price of the wines does not encourage amateur experimentation. Still, I should know more about champagne than I do, if for no other reason than it would be nice to get something more creative than Veuve Clicquot when I'm looking for a sparkling wine gift or treat for myself. I'm setting myself a limit of $50 for champagne, because it's SO expensive I cannot believe it. But, with some careful sleuthing and help from my friends in terms of recommendations, I want to get over my conviction that these wines are totally out of my price league and not worth the money. Stay tuned for the results, and if you have suggestions for particular makers please let me know.

5. Drink more dessert wines. As a rule, we don't eat dessert. But sometimes around 9 pm I want something sweet, not caffeinated, and comforting. This is the perfect opportunity to pour myself a small glass of dessert wine, and I sometimes do just that. I would like to know more about them, however, and try more sherries and ports. Catavino has been posting some great reviews of wines that sound perfect for winter nights, and I'm confident there's more out there to discover.

That should keep me busy for most of the year! What are your wine resolutions for 2008?


Linda Blakely said...

I don't have any wine resolutions, but as for under $50 Champagnes I can very highly recommend Pascal Doquet Brut Rose. I am not a Champagne drinker, but I was fortunate enough to be comped a glass at a restaurant I frequent and both hubby and I fell in love with it!

Anonymous said...

I also plan to delve into the world of Ports. I'm not much into dessert wines usually, but a friend turned me on to Banyuls this summer and now I'm looking to explore Ports!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug, Dottoressa.

Buon capo d'snno!



Anonymous said...

That's Capo d'Anno.

Imagine, no wine yet today...

Anonymous said...

For inexpensive good sparklers, try the cremants from Limoux. Maison Guinot is one that is incredible. Under $20
Spanish reds are for me the best buys around. Maybe not so much in the next year or so though. I'm a fan of mondosapore too.

Dr. Debs said...

Linda, thanks for the champagne tip, and CarolB, I've not had much Banyuls--another excellent idea. Terry, you are welcome. La mia conoscenza delle lingue aumenta quando bere il vino. I have not had any today *yet*, and will therefore limit my Italian since I am confident I made at least 3 mistakes here with my school-girl knowledge of the language.Thanks for the cremant tip, Marco. I've had more cremants than Champagne, and last year was Spain's year, so I'm branching out though you can certainly look forward to reviews of both in the upcoming months since (as you say) they are great buys.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Years Dr. Debs

I am excited to hear more details about the wine book club. YOu can most likely count me in, if there are still openings.

See ya

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tip about the century club! As a college student, I haven't been drinking "legally" in the States very long, but studiando all'estero in Italia and bevendo molto dei Slovak/Portuguese/Hungarian vini during spring break has made breaking 100 a reachable goal to work towards. Great, now my friends will think me crazier than I already am...

Jules said...

Can you let me know when the book club is up and running! I would love to take part.

Jeff said...

Deb, I have never been disappointed (actually never been anything but wow-ed) whenever I've tried a Champagne imported by Terry Thiese. He imports grower Champagne and they are unique and special wines.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Debs and Jeff

I have to agree with Jeff on the Terry Thiese comment and on Growers Champagne. Terry actually came to one of the local shops here and I missed it. BooHoo I had one of his selections, the Pierre Peters for NYE and it was fantastic. I should be posting about it soon.
Take care.

Jeff (Good Grape) said...

Dr. Debs,

We are simpatico as a couple of things I'd like to do are on your list--read more diligently the wine books I already have, get to know italian wines and explore stickies in greater depth.

It was recommended to me (and I have done) to by "Italian Wine" by Victor Hazan as an Italian wine book primer. Written in 1982, I've found this book to be very accessible and well-written. You can find it used on Amazon for pennies + shipping.

Cheers to a great 2008 and I look forward to hearing more details on the book club.


Jeff said...

John (and Deb),

The Pierre Peters is one of my very favorites. (Might have something to do with drinking it the night I got engaged!)

Taster A said...

I know how you feel about Italian wines. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress and what wines you try. After trying a Piemontese Blend of 70% Ruch'e,20% Barbera and 10% Syrah at Bonny Doon, I became determined to expand my horizons and find other unusual Italian wines. I’m finding it very rewarding and wish you the same.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the tip, Jeff. And Taster A, I had that Bonny Doon blend. It was good, as I recall. I'm interested to try their ruche passito dessert wine in the upcoming months. This month, however, I'm focusing on Friuli.And to Jules, John, and others interested in the book club: this month's book is about Italy, too.

Riffvanwinkle, if you are drinking Hungarian, Italian, and Portuguese wines then you will probably be done your wine century before me. Sure, it's not the average college pursuit for the over 21 students, but who wants to be average?