originally published in August 2017, but all these resolutions still hold true today (perhaps ever more so)
Most people tend to make resolutions on New Year’s Day, but if you think about it, most resolutions are things that we should be doing anyway, regardless of the time of year — waiting until the drop of the ball at midnight is simply an excuse to procrastinate.
So, although it’s still early in the year, here are some wine resolutions to help you better enjoy the juice, but please don’t wait until the next new year to give them a go.
Drink something new
There are over 1,000 grape varieties used to make wine in the world, yet most people only drink wine made from the two or three grapes within their comfort zone. There is too much variety in the world and too many great wines being produced to limit yourself in this way. To make it relatively easy to stick to this resolution, each month resolve to drink a wine made with a grape that you’ve never had before. You can cover a lot of grape varieties by drinking wines from Italy and Portugal, which collectively grow over 800 genetically identified varieties. These countries also produce some of the best-value wines on the planet.
I’ve addressed this on numerous occasions, but the issue warrants attention. Avoid wines with an abundance of added sugar. They don’t taste better, they aren’t always cheaper, they’re not good for you and there are too many better-tasting, inexpensive, quality options on the market. And for the majority of people who think that it’s the sulphites that are giving you the headache, it’s more likely the sugar-laden wines that you are drinking (it could also be the histamines).
Raise your threshold level for wines to $15
$10 for a decent bottle of wine is not a reasonable expectation. With the cost of production, shipping, taxes, and the tiered system of importers and retailers, it is not reasonable to expect to get more than a handful of decent bottles for $10 (depending on the province you live in, it may not be reasonable to expect to get any decent bottles for $10). For just a few dollars more, you will open up a huge range of options for great quality and great-value wines.
Splurge every once and a while and treat yourself
There’s nothing wrong with having a bottle of Champagne with French fries, Barolo with a hot dog, Bordeaux with a burger or Grand Cru Chablis with chicken tacos. Don’t wait for a special occasion to open that “special” bottle. Treat yourself and don’t stress about it.
Drink more Canadian wines
Canada is producing outstanding quality wines comparable to some of the best in the world. Riesling, Gamay, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, bubbles glorious bubbles and so much more. We should be proud and support Canadian wine producers. But we shouldn’t drink Canadian just because it’s Canadian. Support the producers that are growing quality wines and raising the bar for our industry.
Drink more sparkling wine and drink it with food
Sparkling wines are underrated, under-appreciated and not just for special occasions. Bubbles come in so many different styles and price points and often we forget how incredibly food-versatile they can be. Whether Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Crémant or the multitude of others, make quality bubbles part of your everyday enjoyment.
Support small producers, those that produce sustainably and those whose wines exhibit a sense of place. Wine should be a reflection of where it’s grown. We are all more concerned with where our food comes from. Shouldn’t this concern also extend to the wines we drink? Support passion, quality and veracity.
Support real wine boutiques
Wine boutiques offer consumers wines that are undiscovered, undervalued and hard to find. They provide quality and value and knowledgeable staff. They raise the wine and culinary culture of our community. Buy wine from independent, locally owned wine shops.
Support restaurants that have wine lists with quality wines and reasonable markups. Too many restaurateurs inexplicably build their wine lists not based on quality, but based on what they’re getting from the importer. They certainly wouldn’t create their food menus that way. And there are too many wine lists with 400%-plus markups. It’s time to put quality and value first. Support those that do, and for those that don’t, let them know so that they can get better.
Don’t agonize over food and wine pairing
There is no question that food and wine make wonderful partners and there are certain pairings that can definitely enhance the dining experience. The problem is when people agonize over attaining a perfect pairing and fret over “making a mistake.” In general, if you drink well-balanced wines and serve them with food that’s prepared well and balanced in its flavours, chances are the two will taste good together. Of course, there are pairings that enhance both the wine and the food, but the fear of failure often results in unnecessary stress. Food and wine are meant to be fun and experimentation often results in finding great pairings that you may not have expected. Keep an open mind, try lots of wines with lots of different types of food and don’t stress out over always needing to have a perfect match.
Push for change
We need to push our elected officials to move more towards a European understanding of wine and culinary being not just an integral part of culture, but an important part of our country’s economy. The more we build a culture around wine and food in this country, the more we have the ability to diversify our economy and carve our share of the ever-growing multi-billion dollar culinary tourism industry.