I’ve learned that most (alright, all!) of the resolutions that we make for the coming New Year that set the bar too high will fail... and yet, there ARE things that I want to change. My solution is: this year’s resolutions will be ones that I can keep, and that will have a built-in incentive. Here’s my list, so far.
1) Drink more Bordeaux! It never fails that when I open a bottle of Bordeaux, I ask myself “Why don’t I drink more Bordeaux?” The balance, the complexity, the combination of fruit, floral and earthy, the way they match with foods... I will drink more Bordeaux!
2) Stop holding on to so much wine. How many times have I picked up a bottle and then returned it to the shelf, thinking, “Oh, it’s just a simple meal. I’ll save this for some better time” and then, years later when I open that bottle find that it is long past its prime. It’s not just the money, it’s the lost pleasure that I mourn when this happens. There is no better time that now; there is no sweeter day than this. Open up those bottles and drink them. Your heirs will not enjoy the wine nearly as much as you will!
3) Always use the “good” wine glasses. Years ago, I had a friend who used the finest antique china, silver and crystal, as well as a linen napkin, for every meal that he ate at home. Even if he was alone having a sandwich, he used only the best, saying that he deserved it at least as much as any of his guests did. He was right. From the simple, slightly chilled Beaujolais poured after work while I prepare dinner to the glass of Sherry while the sun sets on a day off... every glass of wine this year will be drunk from good stemware. Every wine tastes better in a proper glass, so why not?
4) Always have a bottle of dessert wine open... and drink them! Porto, Sherry, Madeira, Sauternes, Muscats, Maurys, Ice Wines, Late Harvest Wines... the world is a wonderful place partly because of these almost magical wines, and it’s a shame that most of us enjoy them so rarely. In the middle of the afternoon as a pick-me-up, instead of a cup of afternoon tea, after work while reading the mail, after dinner instead of dessert, after dinner WITH dessert, as a snack with a piece of cheese, while watching the news, before bed... there are dozens of acceptable excuses for having a sip of a sweet, delicious dessert wine, aren’t there? They taste so delicious that they seem a bit like forbidden fruit. After all, don’t we deserve it?
5) Once a month, I will splurge on a bottle of wine. I always say that there are wines for every day, wines for Sunday dinner and wines for special occasions. This year, I will have a “special occasion” wine at least once each month... as well as something to go with it! No “occasion” to celebrate? Having a really good bottle of wine with someone special IS a special occasion. Life is too short: enjoy it!
6) Pop open some bubbly! While there really is nothing quite like Champagne, there are plenty of other sparkling wines that are truly delicious... and bubbly makes every get-together seem like a party, doesn’t it? Sunday morning breakfast with a glass of Prosecco seems like a mini-vacation, and opening a half bottle of Clairette for just the two of you as you’re getting dressed to go out makes the night feel like it’s right out of a movie. Champagne and sparkling wines are often neglected as accompaniments for meals, yet there are few wines that go better with shellfish, white-fleshed fish and chicken. There are few things on this good earth that bring as many smiles as a glass of bubbly, and I promise myself to enjoy more of it.
7) Once Spring arrives, let’s break out the Rosé! Dry rosé wines from the south of France, from Italy and from Spain (along with those from the rare few American wine makers who understand that pink does NOT equal sweet) are wonderful, refreshing wines that not only are perfect for picnics, but make the meals you serve with them feel as if you’re on a picnic. Once the weather turns warm and we begin to eat lighter foods, rosés are just right!
8) I will introduce more people to the joys of Beaujolais. They have a saying in the bistros of Paris: “When in doubt, choose Beaujolais”, and with good reason. Beaujolais tastes good, compliments almost every dish, and is so affordable. The Crus of Beaujolais represent enormous value for their price, and deserve more recognition. Another plus: you simply cannot be a wine snob with a glass of Beaujolais in your hand!
9) Organize my cellar. I’m afraid that even Oscar Madison would cringe at the sight of my scattered wine collection, and this year I will organize it. Simple shelves and index cards will do if you have a few cases on hand, but I’ve gone way beyond that point. There is wonderful software available, including some free websites, that will help you to remember what you have on hand, and what needs to be drunk up before it goes “over the hill”, which is why I’ve had to make resolution #2.
I want to wish you, your family and your friends a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, filled with all good times and all good things, from me and from all of us at Red White & Bubbly. I look forward to seeing you in 2007!