For many people, a New Year’s wine resolution is likely to be ‘drink less of it’ but there really is no need to punish yourself for an entire year based solely on a fortnight’s over-indulgence and decadence. Here are a few ideas of how to get the most from your wine drinking in 2012.
1. Drink less, but drink better. Nominate one day a week when you actively buy just one glass or bottle of wine but one which costs twice what you would normally spend. Why? Well, it’s better for your liver to drink less for starters, and drinking something which doesn’t normally come into your price bracket will open a whole new world of flavours and sensations. Before you know it, you could be hooked although this could mean 'happy liver, unhappy wallet!'
2. Join a wine course. I always tell people that ‘the more they drink, the more they know about wine’ and whilst that is true, it is always helpful to have some direction to your drinking! I run regular, informal wine courses in Cape Town and will be starting to offer the internationally-recognised WSET courses in a few months time (plug plug!!) - all details will be on www.cathymarston.co.za. You can also check out the Cape Wine Academy for courses around the country.
3. Visit a wine farm. Yes, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to live in the winelands but if you do and you haven’t been to a wine farm recently, now is the time to do so. Check out www.spitorswallow.co.za for ideas of good farms to visit, take a few friends or the family and head out for a day of wine. Educational, enjoyable and inexpensive (well, it is if you can resist the temptation to fill your boot) – what more do you want from a day out?
4. Try something new. If you only ever drink Sauvignon Blanc or have never got any further down the wine list than Buiten Blanc, then make this the year that you expand your horizons. Cool, trendy grape varieties you can try include Viognier, Grenache (both rouge and blanc), Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Franc.
5. Support restaurants and bars which have good wine lists. This has a two-fold benefit because not only will you be getting better and more interesting wines, but you will be helping ensure that choice and individuality stay on the menu. It is far too easy for restaurants to sell their wine lists to the highest bidder which makes them depressingly ‘same-old, same-old’ and means no listing or exposure for most smaller producers. But equally so, keeping a large stock of wines on hand, particularly serving many of them by the glass, is an expensive business for any restaurant or bar. If you find one which tries harder than most, please give it your business. In Cape Town, I recommend The Cru Café, French Toast, La Boheme – please tell me of any others you find!
6. Equally so – avoid restaurants with excessive wine mark-ups. It’s all very well complaining about mark-ups of 300%+ but what are you going to do about it? BYO is an avoidance and not the answer, rather vote with your feet and find somewhere with equally good food, but a less greedy wine policy. There are hundreds of restaurants out there and business is going to be tough this year – there’s no need to pay those mark-ups if you don’t want to.
Do you have any other tips or ideas about how to get the most out of your wine drinking this year? Tell us below!
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