Wine-related resolutions for the new year

I, [state your name], being of sound mind and body do hereby resolve in the year 2016 to do all or most of the following:

1. Keep an open mind. Every well-intentioned, wine-related new year’s resolution list is going to say: “Try new wines.” Why is this such a hard sell? Because it could be otherwise written: “Drink less of what you already know you like.” That’s a sacrifice.

But a sacrifice worth making. One of three things will happen when you try a new wine. 1. You’ll hate it. A total waste of time and money. 2. You’ll like it. You now have an option when you can’t have your favorite. 3. You’ll love it. Falling in love with a wine is a wonderful and rewarding thing, but that’s only going to happen if you keep an open mind.

2. Drink more sparkling wine. If you celebrated New Year’s Eve with a bottom-shelf bubbly that cost $4.99, you got what you deserved the next morning. Oh, by the way, you haven’t enjoyed what I would call honest sparkling wine. You had a wine-like liquid with bubbles injected in to it. Yuck.

It doesn’t have to be Dom Perignon or Krug (fine wines, indeed, but kinda pricey). Great sparkling wines are made just about everywhere they make wine. For 20 bucks or less, you could enjoy a wonderful bottle of sparkling wine from California, Italy (and not just Prosecco), Burgundy, Loire Valley, Spain or right from here in Georgia (more on that in a second).

3. Find my John O’Brien. There’s nothing wrong with shopping in a big-box wine store. They generally have two of the three things you want: price and selection. The missing component? Advice. This year, you will find a wine shop near your home, talk to a friendly, competent sales associate and learn his or her name. John O’Brien at Tower on Piedmont Road is my wine guy. (What? You don’t think I need advice, too?) Regardless of what level you are at, it is helpful to hear other opinions and be reminded of options.

By the way, John and I differ on our personal likes and dislikes. John is not there to foist his agenda on top of mine, however, and neither should your wine guy or gal. If your wine consultant doesn’t listen to you, try the next shop down the road. John and I do agree on one thing: sparkling rosé is a blessing.

4. Support local wines. I am only left wondering how local wines got left in the dust when the locavore movement took off. Grapes are an agricultural product, right? It might have caught some off guard when I suggested in Resolution No. 2 that you could be drinking great sparkling wine from Georgia. Karl Boegner, owner and winemaker for Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery in Dahlonega, became enamored by sparkling wine after a trip to Champagne. He now makes about 1,000 cases of sparkling wines made in the Champagne style. They are delicious, especially the unique Blanc de Syrah Brut.

In 2016, I promise to support and defend the rising locaPOUR movement!

5. I will not be a pompous jerk. Wine appreciation is a personal journey. Some of us are a little further down the road than others. If you know a lot about wine, great. Most people, however, don’t care how much you know. So keep your blather to yourself. If, on the other hand, someone asks a wine question, even the simplest kind of question, answer it gladly with understanding and compassion. Once upon a time, you too were a fawn in the great big wine forest. Stay humble.

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Gil Kulers is a sommelier and maitre d’ for an Atlanta country club. You can reach him at gil.kulers@winekulers.com.

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