AN ENJOYABLE route to self-improvement for the new year is to set goals to heighten the enjoyment of wine. By keeping even a few of these resolutions, you can improve your buying and drinking habits.
I will add to my wine education by trying at least one new wine each month.
If I start a small wine collection, I will store it in a cool place (not above the refrigerator), away from vibration or furnace fumes. The wines will be stored horizontally to keep the corks moist.
I will keep my own tasting notes. Only by building up a personal record can I learn which wines I favor and where to get them.
I will join a tasting society, subscribe to a good wine magazine or read at least one good wine book.
I will buy good, clear wine glasses that hold at least 8 ounces. Colored or decorated glasses hide the wine's color and prevent the taster from judging the wine accurately.
When opening a bottle of sparkling wine, I will hold the cork tightly but turn the bottom of the bottle rather than the cork. This gives more leverage, making the task easier and safer.
I will encourage my neighborhood wine merchant to widen his selection of wines by buying from him and complimenting him upon any improvements. He relies upon customers' input to increase his own wine knowledge.
When scanning a restaurant wine list, I will keep my choice in a comfortable price range. Strangely enough, the two wines most apt to be overpriced are the least expensive (unless you know the wine from previous experience) or the most expensive wine, which is usually there for window dressing. Don't pay high prices for everyday wines, but don't be afraid to buy an expensive one on special occasions.
I will avoid bottles described as "vintage" unless the year is provided.
I will not raise a fuss about overpriced wines in restaurants, but will quietly let the management know how I feel about the prices. To pay a restaurant twice the price of a regular everyday wine is ridiculous.
I will try to be content with carafe house wines and drink serious wines at home with friends.
I will not fall for the suggestion to order something from the bar. High-powered cocktails or highballs will only stun my taste buds and make it impossible to enjoy the flavor of the food.
Instead of ordering a drink from the bar upon arrival, I will place my wine order and request that it be brought to the table as soon as possible.
When I order "a little dry, white wine" I will not lecture the waitress about calling a mediocre white wine "Chablis." The only authentic Chablis comes from northern Burgundy.
I will suggest to a restaurant's manager that it upgrade its "house wines." Too many times, carafe wines are selected on the basis of how much was paid for them. It might be helpful to suggest that higher-value wine be offered even though the price may be slightly higher.
I will refuse to accept any wine that has been opened before it is brought to the table, and will inspect the label to make certain it is the wine ordered. I also will avoid any attempt to push higher-priced wines.
Although I find I do not like the wine I have ordered, I will not complain unless it is unsound. Most restaurants will replace a spoiled wine, but there is no excuse to send back a bottle unless it is spoiled.
Have a question about wine? Write William Murray in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. Questions of general interest will be answered in his column.