The holidays are over. No more parties, social gatherings, office socials or happy hours involving alcohol. In comes “Dry January,” with the intention of a cleanse and reboot for your body. During the holidays and all the events that go along with them, we tend to focus more on the event and social part, than what is in our glasses. We end up mindless drinking, which, in turn, leads to a little bit of careless drinking. One goal of “Dry January” is not just about a cleanse for the body, but also your relationship with alcohol, more specifically in this case, wine.
If you did not plan to give up wine completely this month, there are other options. You could, of course, go with the other new fad—“Damp January”—in which you simply cut down on consumption. Or, you might consider simply changing your relationship with wine, and return to a healthier, more-mindful approach. Go back to paying attention to what’s in your glass, and really focusing on what and how you are drinking.
Begin with determining what you want your relationship with wine to be. If you are reading this, you must not only enjoy drinking wine, but you are at least a little interested in getting to know more about it—how it’s made, different styles, regions, etc. Ask yourself what regions have not yet been experienced, what styles have you not explored, or what varietals.
Perhaps now you are saying, well, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” Here are some ideas you might start with. Where better to start your renewed relationship than where wine began: Georgia (the country). For a varietal, Rkatsiteli offers many different options to explore. Get an Rkats from Georgia, and pick one up from a different region, like the Finger Lakes. Going for a different style, try an “Orange wine,” done with Rkats. If you are not aware, an “Orange wine” is one where the wine has been processed on the skins as is done with a red wine. Enhance this idea with finding out the process that makes an “Orange Wine,” and the history. Take the time to do your comparison with notes, or perhaps blindly to see if you could pick up which one is from what region. Sticking around, old world, head to Greece. If you like Chenin Blanc, search out a wine with Aidani, and or Assyrtiko, or if you like Nebbiolo and have not had Xinomavro, try a couple and take notes.
If you are interested in wine with some history and stories along with it, do some research on Lebanon and try some wines from there. An excellent start is with Chateau Musar, which has a rich history going back to World War II, with rich influences from Bordeaux. Another one is Chateau Ksara, which is another winery with a lot of rich history and great wines. Other obscure regions to look for could be Moldova; Okanagan Valley, Canada; and or Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.
Perhaps your schedule or agenda does not include a deep dive on wines and/or history. Then, perhaps, just commit to a region, like Spain, and start in the North and work your way around the country clockwise, spending at least a couple days or a week in one area, until you get well-versed in the qualities and attributes of that region. Is there a seaside influence, is the terroir offering unique qualities that another does not?
This is just a small list of ideas for where to start, the concept here is to get outside your comfort zone, re-think the way you drink. Commit this month to focusing more on what is in your glass and what you are tasting. Make sure and take notes. Taste with a purpose.
“A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.” —Louis Pasteur