New Year, new wine?

AFTER the festive period of indulgence in food and wine, New Year Resolutions for complete abstinence are often made and easily broken. However, once we have resumed our normal dietary habits there is an alternative to complete abstinence and that is to enjoy quality rather than quantity.

This can be a long-term solution and one that also shouldn’t involve extra spending, especially if you’re not eating out. If you spend �20 a week on wine you can buy at least two decent bottles for that and you can also give some thought to your purchases and experiment with new grape varieties or styles of wine.

A good place to start is with the type of wine you normally buy, noting the grape variety and country of origin and look along the wine shelves for similar wines with a view to seeking others of similar ilk.

For example if you enjoy a �6 Chilean Sauvignon for its light, fresh, easy drinking style then try a �10 bottle that will match your taste preference with additional character and flavour to savour. Another option would be to try an unoaked Chilean Chardonnay or a Chilean Viognier that will have a ripe fruit yet crisp flavour and a zesty peachy flavour respectively providing an opportunity to extend your personal range of enjoyable wines.

This exercise can be followed through with other grape varieties whether white or red. Staying in Chile for the moment, if you like Merlots try the next step in price and hopefully quality that will still have the delicious plummy fruit notes and a greater depth of flavour likely to be obtained from careful oak aging that will bring all the flavours together.

Alternative red grape varieties grown in Chile such as Syrah, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon will all have some of the ripe fruit notes expected of Chilean reds with each grape’s varietal character such as blackcurrants and berries from the Cabernet.

To add an extra dimension of interest to your wine selection look for the same grape making wine in a different country such as New Zealand and France if you’re a Sauvignon fan and try the gooseberry fruit from the Antipodes such as Makutu, Zephyr Sauvignons or the subtle leafy fruit from the Loire Valley such as a Pouilly Fum� from Michel Redde or a generic Touraine Sauvignon. Follow this route with other countries growing Merlots for example and you’ll be greatly and pleasantly surprised by the number of wines available to match your expectations.

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Finally, a more radical option would be to seek out wines from unusual grape varieties or examples of wines grown in countries where they are least expected. Look out for Italian whites, Tempranillo most widely grown in Spain that is producing stylish quality wines in Australia and Argentina or Pinot Noirs from Australia or the South of France rather than Burgundy, such as Les Volets.

New Year, a time to make new plans, why not experiment with new wines?

Happy New Year!