It’s that time of year when many of us resolve to make changes for the coming year. Granted, some of us are better than others at making good on those resolutions. And some of those resolutions are easier to make good on than others. We all strive to be better in certain parts of our lives that we find from the past year which may need some additional focus. Here are the resolutions we would suggest for wine consumers that will improve your own wine experience in 2020.
The first resolution is to drink better wine. Sound obvious? Of course, it does! But it is achievable for all of us; regardless of the budget we have to work with, you can drink better wine. First, avoid anything with an animal on the label — tails, eyes and the like are never an indicator of really good wine, so skip the animal-themed bottles. Instead, start working with a wine professional you like and develop a list of your “go to’s” that you can depend on and fit into your spending and consumption patterns. Here at The Dinner Party, we have bottles that start at $8, so we can assure you we have bottles that are affordable for you, and we will work to find the ones that are to your taste. We keep track of every bottle you buy on our software too, so when you come back and say you liked this one but not that one, we can keep track of your favorites so you can revisit them, but more importantly we can tailor recommendations going forward to what you have liked. Most wine professionals can do the same.
The second resolution is to make your wine, whatever you choose, taste better. We recently had a fascinating discussion with one of our customers. She had gone through her kitchen and gotten rid of all the mismatched wine glasses that she had collected from tastings, charity events and winery visits, and then she purchased a full set of matching wine glasses designed for great drinking. Many of the glasses you get at events are not well designed to get the most out of every glass. They are poorly shaped, the rim is rolled as opposed to cut, the glass is too thick — all of which have deleterious effects on how the wine presents on your palate. This is another resolution and solution that is within your budgetary reach. Thin crystal glasses with a cut edge are available from $8.95 per glass. Can you spend more? Sure. And, we have those glasses too, but with just a small expenditure and guidance from a wine professional, you can get a nice set of stemware or stemless ware that will improve your wine experience.
The third resolution is to taste with a winemaker. No one can better describe what goes into each bottle produced than the guy or gal that actually made the wine. This is another resolution that won’t break the bank. No need to travel to some distant wine-producing region, just attend a local tasting, but do it when a winemaker is there to take you on the journey. We hold monthly tastings here at our shop, and monthly winemaker dinners with our friends at Fleur de Sel in Post Falls. Both are great opportunities to garner firsthand knowledge on the wines and gain understanding on why you like what you like.
The final resolution is to have some fun with your wine consumption. Taste with friends or family. Don’t be afraid to express your opinions on which wines you like and which wines you don’t. Be specific about what you do and don’t like in the wine. Another fun exercise when tasting with a group at one of your gatherings is to “brown bag” the bottles. Every time we taste blind here in the shop or with a group, we are surprised by the results of what we like and many times, more amazingly, what we don’t like! Take time to develop your palate and aromatic memory. This is another fun exercise with a group when you work to really identify what you smell, taste and feel from each glass of wine. Your friends will influence what you pick up in wine through the power of suggestion, or if you really want to go into “wine geek” mode try this exercise with a wine aroma kit. This is a kit that has vials filled with liquid that helps you find the aromas in your own memory bank.
The best part about your New Year’s wine resolutions is they will be fun to accomplish and it shouldn’t be too hard to stick to them, especially since wine for true enthusiasts is already a part of your life.
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George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.