It is that time of the year. All sorts of promises are given and resolutions made. Interestingly, no one seems to ever revisit last year's resolutions and reflect on what has or has not been achieved. Maybe this is because only 12% of us still stick to a resolution after a year's time, as we learned when considering what to do with the wine year 2010. Historians by trade, we Wine Ramblers are brave enough to use the historical-critical method to look back at what we set out to do in 2010 and then develop a plan for what to do with the wine year 2011.
The 12%-study we consulted last year also told us that boys were better with resolutions considered helpful for pulling girls. Interestingly, one of our resolutions - to try more Swabian wine - wasn't totally unsuccessful in this respect
So instead of the average 12% I factor in the girl boost to define having fulfilled 30% of our last year's resolutions as a modest success and 50% as really good.
At work I preach that in research we can learn most from failures. So let's begin with last year's resolution #1: First, the hardest: Finally seriously educate ourselves about Burgundy. I'd like to point to me attending a Chablis tasting, but this resolution really was about finding quality and value Pinot from Burgundy, and the one time we tried we have failed. We did host a blind German vs Burgundy Pinot tasting, but overall we have to admit we did not try hard enough. 2% success rate so far.
I think it is fair to say that we succeeded with resolution #2: Try a few interesting German sparkling wines without waiting for something to celebrate. Over the past year I have turned from a sparkling sceptic into a lover of bubbles, having indulged on sparklers from the Pfalz, Baden and Rheinhessen. Julian even found a celebrity sparkler. 12% success.
Resolution #3, well, mixed results: Learn more about the German wine regions we do not regularly venture into, for instance Saxony and Swabia. We have been very good with drinking Swabian wine this year - I'd just like to point to the story of the Scottish girl who has a crush on Swabians. Saxony, well, we had some at tastings, but not a single entry in our database. 17% success so far.
Again, mixed results on #4: Try more from lesser-known French wine regions like the Jura or the Loire Valley. We have learned to love Loire Chenin Blanc, but not much to report on the Jura yet. So I'd rate this as as bringing us to 20%.
Eventually, a full success story: #5 Taste blind more regularly, and honestly confront the utter subjectivity of the wine tasting experience. I have hosted several amusing blind tastings in London, and Wine Rambler committee meetings do now include blind tastings as a rule. We had Germany defeat France at the Pinot tasting only to get an arse kicking from an English sparkler later, and we have been confused by the Sucker Punch of the Sauvignon Blanc. It is fair to say we learned a lot, and it was fun too. That brings us to 30%.
#6, Keep an eye on what's happening in eastern Europe. A reasonable success that had us enjoy Hungarian Cabernet Franc, Slovenian Chardonnay or discover Georgian Saperavi. More could have been done, but I'd say it qualifies for getting us to 37%.
Focus more on really matching food and wine. Not as much in the focus as I'd have liked to, but still a range of experiments to point to. My personal highlight was matching the Sultans of Sweet with all sorts of food and Julian enjoyed learning about wine matches for asparagus. This will certainly be an ongoing mission. I'd say it gets us to 44%.
#8 has been, I think it is fair to say, our greatest success: Learn more about wine and food photography. I didn't even own a camera before the Wine Rambler came to be, and it was only a year ago that we started to have photos on our wine reviews. Even though there is so much more to learn, it is fair to say we have come a long way. Just compare one of my first with two recent photos:
In addition to making the Wine Rambler more pleasing to the eye, photography has also become a new pastime for us - so much fun. That easily qualifies for the maximum 10%, bringing us to safe 54%.
Number 9 is close to my heart. Continue the search for an English wine to get really excited about. We have sampled and enjoyed a range of English sparkling wines, for instance from East Sussex. My personal highlight was a rosé from Kent. I have learned a lot from the English-German wine dialogue and it is a mission we will continue. 64%.
And last, but not least, there is #10: Keep an eye out for esoteric 'German' grapes and also for wines made from varieties Germany is not usually associated with (such as Syrah, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc). Over the past year, German Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Syrah have all graced the Wine Rambler's table. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I have fallen in love with German Chardonnay. We also haven't forgotten about the esoteric German grape varieties and to remind us to focus more on those we have introduced the no other place tag. Still, I feel we might have done a little more here. 72%
With statistical certainty we can say that we have achieved 72% of what we promised to do a year ago. Not so bad. Eventually, this brings us to our resolutions for 2011.
- The most important is to continue what we started. Drink and explore broadly, I think sums it up. So we will continue to keep an eye on wine from Swabia, the Loire, Eastern Europe and England; continue to drink German Chardonnay as much as the unknown varieties; continue to enjoy sparkling wine; and continue to play around with aperture settings and perspectives.
- The leftovers: Burgundy Pinot will be Julian's mission for this year. We both should muster our courage and finally venture into Saxony.
- German Wine Guide: Collect all the random bits of information scattered across the Wine Rambler into a more accessible guide on German wine.
Is there anything we won't do but maybe should? Overcome our bias and actively engage with Italian wine, for instance, but somehow I don't see it happen just yet. Learn to love international style heavy red wines - not very likely. Drink more Liebfraumilch. Not bloody likely. However, God only knows what stupid things I might do drinking supermarket wine...
And you, how have you been doing? Or is there anything, about German wine or other delights, you'd want us to do? Let us know!