New Year’s Drinking Resolutions

Paul Blow

Most people's New Year's resolutions contain something about not drinking, or not drinking as much. I, on the other hand, set goals about what type of drinking I want to focus on in the new year. Last year it was cider and Calvados (among other things). Check. What about this year?

’Gnac Juice—In my friend Marc's strange, personal vernacular (vergnacular?), that's the term for Cognac and Armagnac. For years in my mind, those spirits had seemingly been irretrievably co-opted by aristocrats and rap artists, so I'd given them only a modicum of attention. But over the last six months, my own postprandial sipping of the stuff has greatly increased (thanks to receiving a delicious, but rapidly disappearing, bottle of Cognac Dudognon as a Christmas present). I adore brandy but realize that I know very little about it, so it seems quite sensible to continue building on my natural propensities.

Jura ’Nidiot—Last year I wrote that I wanted to become better versed in many of the lesser-known wine regions of France and Italy. That was a stupidly broad ambition. Every small region I mentioned in that column is a universe unto itself, deserving years of its own attention. In setting New Year's drinking resolutions, it's better to be more specific and reasonable. So this year, I'm going to just say that I'm aiming to sharpen up my sense of the Jura, that subalpine region on France's eastern edge. It's true that the wines have become fashionable in certain circles, but that's no reason not to be excited about them. 2011 saw me already falling in love with the ethereal perfume of the Jura's light, aromatic red grape—Poulsard—as well as digging on mineral, brisk whites like Savagnin and Trousseau Gris. A stellar Château-Chalon (a bright, energetic oxidized Savagnin) from Domaine Macle put me over the top. If I can get to France this year, it's going to be to the Jura.

Southern Hemis-fear—While I still follow American wines closely, I've taken a two-year break from peering into the wines of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. And now I'm feeling a bit guilty and neglectful. It's time to begin checking back in on the other side of the world.

The Rye Stuff—Not whiskey this time, but beer made with rye. Every time I'm in New York, I make a point of finding a bar with Sixpoint's Belgian Rye on tap. Blanco, Texas's Real Ale Brewing Company has also impressed me with its balanced, gulpable Full Moon Pale Rye. There've been a couple of bottles of fascinating German roggenbier too (roggen is the German word for "rye") that have gotten me as excited as any beer I've tasted recently. 2012 will be my year of rye beer, as I track down and slurp any and every one I can find.

So that's my list. You'll know I'm making progress on these goals if you see them reappear in columns. And how about you, dear reader? What would you like to see in your glass in 2012?

Jordan Mackay is a San Francisco–based wine and spirits specialist whose work has appeared in publications such as Gourmet, the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, and Decanter. Follow him on Twitter. Follow CHOW too, and become a fan on Facebook.