By now the scramble to write objectives, goals and new year resolutions should have died down. So how about some guidance for wine lovers who are looking for ways to maybe drink less, but also broaden their wine horizons this new year? Here’s four goals that can help and are based on similar recommendations in the well respected Decanter Magazine:
- Trade Up: This is a simple way to cut down your alcohol intake but will certainly widen your horizons. First, work out how much you usually spend on buying bottles of wine in an average month. Let’s say it’s £75 per month and that you tend to consume about three bottles per week. That means on average you pay around £6.50 per bottle. Now, keep the £75 spend, but double the cost per bottle, which means you can now only buy SIX bottles of a higher quality wine. Stick to the SAME grapes, countries, region etc, just trade up! You might be surprised at the overall quality difference!
- Widen Your Palate: What types of wine do you normally buy, what grape, which country or region. Let’s imagine you’re a lover of Chardonnay and mostly buy oaked Chardonnay from Australia, so how about trying an unoaked Chablis from France. Same grape but a very different wine. Or, maybe you mostly like the “heavier” reds such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon for example. Try a lighter red such as a Pinot Noir from Burgundy, or Chile, or New Zealand. Experiment, but keep your cost up to keep the quality high. One day you might qualify to join the Wine Century Club!
- Befriend Local Merchants: One of the best ways to trade up or widen your horizons is to start using local wine merchants, specialist shops, wherever you live. The big supermarkets are OK but only if you REALLY know what you’re looking for! It’s very rare to find someone stacking shelves in Tesco who can tell you whether the 2018 Pommard is worth double the price of the 2015 Volnay! But become a regular in your local wine merchant and you’ll have someone looking after your interests because trust is earned! They are not getting hundreds of customers each day and need regulars who will come back. Tell them your likes in terms of taste, foods etc. Many such merchants have weekly tastings too so go along and join in.
- Become A Wine Traveller: Planning a holiday this year? Why not spend a little time researching the wines or vineyards of the place you are visiting? It’s amazing what friends you will make or special service you will get for example if you ask for something “local” by name. Try asking for a Furmint in Budapest, or a Ribera del Duero in Spain when in a restaurant or a wine bar. You might even live within reach of a vineyard or two, why not pay them a visit, learn something about winemaking generally or their wines specifically. It can add so much more to a holiday, because to many places, certainly in Europe, wine and winemaking is part of their culture.
These four areas have served me well over many years. I have now tasted about 150 grape varieties and am a member of the Wine Century Club, I am a member of The Wine Society and buy most of my wine from them, I have friends in Burgundy, France who we visit almost every year. Our holidays in France have taken us into the wine regions of Bordeaux, Alsace, Loire, Languedoc, Jura as well as Burgundy. We always explore local wines when visiting Hungary, Spain, Italy, South Africa …… How else could I have written Its Not About The Wine? (Note to self: Time to explore the vineyards of Sussex, Kent, Norfolk …….)
Great advice and great pictures. Thank you, Dr B.
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That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing.
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This has been such a refreshing read. I had missed reading your blog posts (especially the ones on wine)
I was lucky to visit some vineyards in champagne and Burgundy while I was in France last October for the World Wine Blind Tasting competition. Being my first time in France (and Europe) I fell in love. I’m planning to go back this October to visit Provence and hopefully get to visit Italy too.
Thank you for this post Doc!🥂
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