How I Want to Continue My Love Affair With Wine

I can’t believe that another year has flown by. It seems just the other day it was trying to mow the grass without incurring heat stroke. Then it was Halloween, which means Wal-Mart already has their Christmas trees out. Then it was really was the Holidays. Now, here we are with 2014 starting to tick off the days. And it seemed a golden opportunity to suggest some New Year’s resolutions, especially when it comes to the world of wine.
I wanted to start with a repeat of one of my 2013 resolutions…drink more Texas wines. I’ve mentioned the 290 Texas wine trail several times and still recommend it, especially to the novices, also in terms of saving you the trip to the California wine country. Kathy and I had a chance to revisit recently, and it was even better than I remembered from earlier trips. A year ago, I mentioned 20+ wineries to visit, and now the number is approaching 40+ wineries. Two that stood out that day were 4.0 Cellars and Grape Creek…great folks and very knowledgeable, that were pouring fabulous wines. The problem is a familiar one in the wine world…so many great wines…so little time. I guess we need to schedule another roadtrip when the weather starts to cooperate and this time leave enough space on the itinerary to visit the Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye to sample some fine Texas sippin’ whiskey.
Another excellent resource to keep abreast of the rapid changes in the Texas wine industry is the wine blog entitled Texas Wine Lover, written by Jeff Cope (www.txwinelover.com). I’ve followed Jeff’s postings for several years, as he visited probably over 200+ wineries. I finally had the pleasure of meeting him in person, as he was kind enough to make time and visit us at The Boerne Wine Company to write a short review (Thank you Jeff for the kind words!). Please make a point to sign-up for his blog.
And to exercise your new E-reader from Xmas, look for Red, White, and Drunk all over by Natalie MacLean. I started this book a few weeks ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the journey. This is a very easy read, just under 300 pages, and Natalie writes about the discovery of wine the way I wish I could…she is a very gifted writer. The best news is that in addition to her website (www.nataliemaclean.com), she offers a free e-newsletter under the Nat Decants tab. Another great resource to sign-up for.
wine    For those who prefer the older style of reading, there always seems to be more than a few wine books at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. but the best selection seems to be at Half-price books. Wine for Dummies has a permanent place on my book shelf. It always help remind me that I know just a little about the subject…keeps my feet on the ground and humble. Beware those “wine experts” that purport to know everything about wine, and keep an eye on your wallet…nuff said.
I received a lot of positive feedback on forming a tasting group with your wine loving friends…sorta your own home BTG program. The basic outline for this type of program is pretty simple…get your wine friends together, establish a theme (new versus old world, all cabernets, by region, by country, etc.), decide how often to meet(monthly seems to work the best), establish a budget, work up a rotation schedule for which homes will be utilized, and everyone brings an appetizer. The hosts provide the venue, glassware, and a tasting sheet to keep notes and scores if desired .What a great way to enjoy like-minded family and friend’s company, and taste some great wines that you might not even have seen or read about. Here is your basic calculation formula…the average wine bottle contains approximately 25 ounces, which helps the group figure out the pouring size for each glass. 12 couples would each be able to enjoy a 1 ounce taste from each bottle. 1 bottle per couple would give you the opportunity to taste 12 different wines. And please remember moderation is a year-round rule…12 ounces is roughly 2.5 glasses. Have plenty of water, and other beverages to prevent over indulging.
Themes are where the group can have the most fun. Since wine is really all about the art of discovery, tasting groups offer you that opportunity to explore new regions, appellations and varietals. It’s really fun to literally go around the world, tasting wine. For new groups, I recommend starting with a limited budget, as you and the other members test the waters (or wines), learn your likes, and dislikes. At the end of the first year, it was fun to do a sparkling session as the Holiday season finishes up. And as the group progresses, and tastes mature, it’s fun to increase the budget incrementally…just don’t make the group too unaffordable. Our good friend “Goggle” is a great resource for pulling up some basic information on the wines and region you selected, maybe even throw in a little history, and then close with some tasting notes. Each couple should make this short presentation to help the others get acclimated to each wine. Having done the “group” thing for many years, I’ll be happy to suggest themes for any groups interested, or even conducting the first one in your home (time permitting and the good Lord willing) The same goes for locating special wines for the group, one that you’ll probably not find at your local grocery store or liquor store. Just drop me a quick email, and I’ll be happy to help…all I need is your price range, country of origin, style, etc.
I’ll say it again from last year…drink more Champagne! We covered styles and price points just this past month, but it’s easy to use these points year round. When you find your favorite style and pricepoint, you’ve created your own “affordable” luxury to enjoy year round. Nothing makes an occasion more special than a glass of sparkling. And don’t forget the stopper to extend the life of the bottle after you open it.
My wine journal. I think most of us would be challenged to remember that great bottle of wine we had just the other day, unless we have a reference point. Most of us shop visually, so keeping track of our favorite labels is important. The method Kathy and I have developed over the years seems to still work pretty well. After that special meal, we breakdown the kitchen, soak the items that need to soak overnite in the pot sink, separate the glassware to do the following day, load the dishwasher, prep the coffee maker, and lastly load the empty wine bottles in the sink to also soak overnite. First one up the next morning starts the coffee, takes the label floating on the top of the sink, and plugs it into our old loose leaf binder, taking the time to plug in the basic information (vineyard, varietal, price point, food paired, people paired, and our personal tasting notes).Now months later, while we’re trying to remember that “chewy” Zin we had with John and Sheema, all we have to do is leaf thru our binder till we find the right label, and there we have it…no more guesswork. Another idea I’ve seen in the shop is using your phone to take a picture of the label…very easy to do at your favorite wine bar or restaurant. If it’s something outside the mainstream, try to get a picture of the back label also. This usually has more information that can be helpful in tracking down your favorite wine.
Working outside our comfort zone for style and pricepoint. This is probably one of the easiest after you take that initial first step. Red instead of white, and vice versa. Trying an import to go with that new recipe instead of a domestic. A sparkling wine with that first course. Maybe one of those new (or old) Texas wines you discovered on the Wine trial. Lastly, the most fun is trying wines in that $15 to $30 price point. What a fun way to discover your new house red and white. The possibilities are almost unlimited.
And so as we usher in 2014, one journey ends, and another begins. A new year, a fresh start, a chance to renew promises…almost like a vintage year. A year that is ripe with promise and potential…a clean slate. And thru the year there are so many things that will make us happy…the laughter of children, the smile of a spouse, and a wagging tail from man’s best friend as we come in the door. Again, may I humbly suggest a glass of wine to make it a special day. My final resolution is to be a man rich in family and friends. I raise my glass to your continued health and happiness…Salute!



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