Have you broken your New Years Resolutions yet? Did you even bother making any?
A new year brings opportunities for new beginnings, new adventures. This week, I will suggest some ways to spice up your wine exploration in 2012. Even with something as varied and diverse as wine, it’s easy to fall into a rut. Keep these suggestions in mind thought the year and you’ll always be ready to encounter something different.
Visit a wine store that you’ve never been to before. If you normally buy wine at a supermarket, check out the nearest specialty wine retailer. Yes, it may mean investing a little more time or stopping at the next strip mall down the street, but your reward will be greater variety and better value for the price. Get to know the store owner and ask him or her to recommend a wine in your price range but out of your comfort zone. You may find a wine that’s not available anywhere else in this area. That’s an experience you can’t have at Giant or Safeway.
When my wife and I began our wine explorations many years ago, we were part of a crowd that did a weekly Saturday pilgrimage throughout D.C. Some of us called this “the Stations of the Vine.” We’d start at Bell wine shop on M St NW about noon, for their enjoyable weekly selection of 10 wines, always accompanied by Fred Luskin’s selection of opera music. We’d wait for a newbie to violate Bob Luskin’s only rule – that all wines must be tasted, in order. His catchphrase when someone asked to skip ahead: “If I suffer, you suffer!” It was a great way to learn about wine and to make friends.
From there we’d head down M St a few blocks to Mayflower Liquors, where Sidney Moore and her son, Harry, usually had some fascinating wines open. Someone in the group would have heard of a store pouring something interesting, so we’d head off to Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, or MacArthur Beverages, or Cleveland Park, or Wide World of Wines, or Pearson’s, or … Often we’d end up at Calvert Woodley, especially when they used to hold tastings downstairs in the basement (now closed and used for storage). By then we were also getting a bit tipsy, and our car trunk was full of wine. On the way back home, there was always time to stop at Morris Miller just to see what they were featuring.
By visiting a variety of stores and getting to know the owners and staff, we sampled a wide range of wines from various countries and regions, and in many styles. It was a great education. To this day, we remain restless in our love of wine, always ready to try something new and unexplored.