New Year Resolutions

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS 2015

I wonder how many of us make New Year Resolutions? I wonder, also, of those of us who do, how many of us keep them, and for how long?

On the whole, I’m one who does make them, and I do try and keep them – though, inevitably some of them fall by the wayside as the year progresses. Usually, the first to go is my annual resolution to keep my office tidy. And, linked closely to this is the one where I promise to visit the bottle bank more regularly!

Imagine the number of bottles of wine I get through each month (and bear in mind here, that I do this selflessly for you, dear reader!) – I sometimes wonder if the refuse collectors (as a student, I used to be one) ever take note of the quality of the wines that have been consumed whose bottles end up in the bottle banks around the area where my house is situated. I’m sure they don’t, but you know what, if it was me, I would! I know, I’m a sad case!

Well, there’s one New Year Resolution that I’ll certainly be keeping this year. My surgeon has dictated that I must do certain exercises before, and after, the two knee replacement operations that I’m expecting (dreading!) in 2015. I didn’t mention to him that, come what may, I’d have to continue with many of the wine related resolutions that I’m about to disclose here. One can give doctors too much information, don’t you think?!

So, for better for worse, for longer or shorter times kept, here are some suggestions re  wine resolutions and, as wine is one of my passions, I think I will be able to maintain these throughout the year. Perhaps you’d like to join me in some of them?

  1. Though there are some promising signs, La Crisis still bites here in Spain, so it may be that readers will worry about my first resolution, and of course, I accept that this may not be possible for us all. I’m going to spend a Euro or two more when I buy wine this year.

We’ll be able to see, smell, taste and even, feel, the difference in quality. Trade up a little and you’ll discover there’s so much more to obtain from Spanish wine. Most of us are not just in it for the alcohol and there are aromas and flavours waiting to be discovered!

I’m convinced that having the date of disgorgement visible (and I don’t mean some code that has to be deciphered!) on the back label of Sparkling Wines is an advantage to both the consumer and the producer.

As Cork Talk readers will know, the date when the dead yeast is expelled from the bottle, which has been kept ‘en rima’ in the cellars for at least nine months, is very significant, if we want to drink fizz at its best. Sparkling wine has a shelf life, which is shorter in Spain than in, for example, France, though the disgorgement date is still relevant there too.

When this yeast sediment has been exploded out of the bottle and the sparkling wine is then ready to drink, it will only last, at its best, for a certain length of time. You have about 9 months with the younger sparklers, longer with Reservas and Gran Reservas, but not hugely longer, when the wine can be enjoyed as the winemaker wants you to enjoy it.

However the consumer can only tell how long is left if the date is clearly visible on the label. Obviously this information is important for us, but I believe it’s also crucial for the producer, who will reap the benefits of having his/her fizz always drunk when it’s at its best.

My resolution is therefore to buy exclusively (as far as is possible) sparklers that have this information on their labels, and to ask the retailer why others don’t, and can they demand this from the bodega from whom they buy. Sadly, I know I’ll also have to explain the significance to some retailers (particularly the supermarkets in whom I don’t have much confidence) and that I’ll have to suffer their indignation that I, a foreigner, should suggest something to improve a Spanish product!

I’ll be a pain to them, I know, but if we don’t act, this problem will continue to be a thorn in our otherwise wonderful Spanish Sparkling Wine!

Back to supermarkets and the failure of some of them to put the consumer first. I’m again going to expose those supermarkets that are selling wines when they are past their best. I have written before of the horrors of the dark orange and even brown 5+ years old Rosados that I have seen blatantly offered on supermarket shelves, purely to release space in the warehouse whilst at the same time covering the buyers’ error in buying too many bottles at the time when it was safe to drink them!

It doesn’t just apply to rosados and it doesn’t just apply to one supermarket chain or individual business. Again, I’ll have my work cut out explaining that the best place for such fruitless apologies for wine is down the drain, but I will, and one day they’ll listen.

Please, don’t make me a voice in the wilderness – join the campaign!

I’m going to continue to buy Vino de la Tierra wines. These are the wines which are not Denominación de Origen wines, but which nevertheless often offer excellent quality, and value.

If you look at Spanish wine books from 20+ years ago you’ll see that VdlT wines are effectively described as ‘wannabe DO wines’. I doubt it was ever the case, but it certainly isn’t now. There are really good quality wines that are not DO and yet offer at least as much, and on occasion, more.

My advice is look at the price-tag. It is generally still true that in Spain you receive what you pay for. In other words, in this case, a VdlT wine that is priced at, or above, ‘average’ DO wine prices will deliver just what you want it to. Experiment!

I’m going to continue to seek out eclectic wines, wines from unfamiliar areas of production and wines made from less well known varieties. When I discover good ones, as I surely will, I’ll be letting readers know. You can do the same of course.

I say again – experiment.

Finally, as I’m running out of space – whilst I’m not going to consign my sparkling wine flutes to the bottle banks, I am going to drink more sparkling wine from white wine glasses.

Like most of us, I delight in seeing flutes of fizz and their wonderful, sparkling bubbles seething to the surface, and occasionally even overflowing. It’s all part of the folklore – it speaks of celebration. However the fact is that it is easier to discover the finer aroma and flavour profiles when Sparkling Wine is tasted from a wine glass!

Many thanks for reading me over the last year and I hope you continue to do so! Please note that there will be, as always, various exciting wine related events this year and the best way to hear about these in advance is to join my e-mail list. There’s no charge, of course, and my regular update are as unobtrusive as possible. Please contact me and I’ll add you to the list. Gracias.

Contact Colin: colin@colinharknessonwine.com and through www.colinharknessonwine.com and via Twitter @colinonwine

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