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Off The Vine


s a good time for wine resolutions

Well, a new year is upon us &

time to take stock of our ideas about wine in the new year. I&

ve got a list of New Year&

s Wine Resolutions to kick off 2006, so here they come:

1. Expand your wine horizon! This is the time to move along and get off of Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. This does not mean that you can never go back, but give the other wine varietals a chance. I know tons of folks who will just drink one or two different types of wine and I simply can&

t get them to try new wines! If you enjoy big and hearty Cabernet Sauvignon, give Syrah a chance. If you are into dry white wines, why not invest in an inexpensive off dry Riesling for a change? This is good stuff. The world is filled with seemingly endless varieties and vintage dates. I think you will love the change.

2. Get out of the house! There are many wonderful wineries to visit, many of them close to home. Take your spouse, a friend or a colleague and visit a local winery. It is fun to get to know the local winegrower and see what he or she has to offer. It amazes me how many friends I know who live less than 10 miles from a winery who have never visited. Wineries are generally very welcoming and are eager to inform you on what is available at the time of your visit or wine releases within a short time of your visit. Take a designated driver and kick up your heels.

3. Join or start a gourmet dining club/wine club. This is super fun on all kinds of levels. Not only will you dine on some interesting food and sip on different wines, you will make some dear friends in the bargain. Here are some tips: Use a theme such as Italian Night, French Night or Zinfandel Night. Build your cuisine around any variety of themes where each couple brings a dish or a few couples bring a wine appropriate to the theme. Some nights are built around a vertical, or succession of vintage dates of the same wine or a varietal from three different growing areas around the world. The themes are endless and so is the fun. Some gourmet/wine groups have dessert nights only and sweet wines are tasted. This type of group keeps the cost and the time in preparation to a minimum while still having a great time exploring wine.

4. Starting a personal wine cellar. Build your cellar so that it will not cost you an arm and a leg to start. One of the downsides of a personal cellar, I&

d say one of the traps, is to purchase wine that you think is too valuable to drink. This might sound pretty stupid but it happens all the time. Some folks will save up their hard earned cash and go crazy purchasing a bottle a week but find out down the road that they would rather save the bottle than drink it because it is &

too expensive&

to consume. There are countless cellars with expensive vinegar from reluctant or stingy wine collectors who just can&

t bring themselves to drink their &


So, here is the rule &

put in your cellar wines that will age for 10 years maximum that you are comfortable to pay for in the first place. Also, put a variety of wines in the cellar. You may lose that love affair for Merlot and find yourself awash in the stuff, so be prudent and spread out the cellar cash. If you purchase a bottle a week, you will have more than four cases of wine by this time next year. Pretty cool!

5. Have fun with wine and expand your horizons! It is an endless wine world with so many fine bottles of wine to try. Wine may be the number one social lubricant in meeting new friends or cementing the bond with dear old friends. Above all, please drink responsibly in 2006 regardless of your beverage of choice. Have a great new year!