Come January first, you can start eating better and probably even find time to clean out the garage. But wouldn’t it be far more enjoyable to focus your New Year’s efforts on drinking really good wine? Here are five wine resolutions that will help you fill your glass with something great in 2012.
Visit the Ancient World
Before there was the Old World, there was the ancient world. Humans have been messing around with fermented fruit for almost 6,000 years now, and while no one is sure exactly where wine was first made, most signs point to near today’s Republic of Georgia. From there, winemaking spread quickly to the parts of the world currently occupied by Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, and Israel, among others. These regions are home to grape varieties found nowhere else (Kolorko from Turkey and Obaideh from Lebanon, for starters), and they produce unique wines worth seeking out, not only for their wonderfully different flavors (lemon oil, sometimes a hint of parchment), but because their obscurity is often reflected in their prices.
2009 The Royal Tokaji Wine CompanyDry Furmint, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary ($15) With aromas of citrus, herbs, and honey, this white wine offers flavors of apples, pears, and white flowers that dance across the palate.
2003 Château Musar Hochar Père et Fils Red, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon ($25) Velvety in texture, this wine has flavors of sour cherry and red berries, as well as deeper leather and earthy notes. Great acidity means it will age beautifully, if you can resist drinking it now.
Escape from California
It’s all too easy to keep buying the same old reliable California wines every time you drop by the wine shop. And if Zinfandel is your thing, you won’t find many options from elsewhere in the United States. But if you’re looking for a little variety when it comes to other reds and whites, go north.
Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been making world-class Pinot Noir for decades, while Washington turns out fantastic red wines of many kinds, along with some excellent Riesling. For reasons not entirely clear, these states receive far less attention from wine lovers than they should. Choose a wine from one of these regions and chances are you’ll be getting a great bottle for less than you’d spend on one of its California counterparts.
2007 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine, Red Mountain, Washington ($30) This juicy concoction of black cherry, cassis, and violets has a brightness that makes it easy to drink. Faint tannins and minerality add complexity.
2008 Forefront (by Pine Ridge Vineyards) Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($20) A deep, wet earthiness pervades this wine’s bouquet of cranberry and raspberry fruit. Bright acidity makes it a wonderful food wine.