some resolutions worth keeping

Ernie Whalley

Like the hero of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity I am a list-maker. So, what's to do but make my New Year's resolutions, most of which get ditched around the third week of February. Feel free to adopt all or any.

1> Drink more widely: There are some 5,000 grape varieties in the world. So I'm going to devote more time to exploring the likes of Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Lebanon and other nations making interesting wines.

2> Drink less but better: The idea is to get as far through the week as I can without opening a bottle and then treat myself to a really decent drop towards weekend.

3> Quit holding back those 'best' bottles: Once or twice I have hung on to something stellar from the cellar for just a little too long and been disappointed. It's better to drink a wine two years too early than a day too late.

4> Widen the sharing circle: This year I'm going to share these wines with more casual wine-drinking friends.

5> Decant young red wines: They are so much more enjoyable if aerated in a decanter, better still if poured into a jug first and then back into the bottle, a process known as 'double-decanting'.

6> When dining out make a point of ordering wine by the glass: This will allow me to try wines I maybe haven't drunk before and to have a choice of a different wine for each course.

7> Buy two reds, put one down: In Australia this year I drank many older vintages of mid-priced wines, mainly from 1996-2001. Most were in lovely condition.

8> Serve white wine with cheese: High acidity and low tannin often makes white wine a better partner for cheese.

9> Support classic drinks: Sherry, dessert wines and port are endangered species.

10> Don't drink and drive: Each year people kid themselves that 'a couple of glasses' is okay. But it's not.

Here's three things from another list -- My Significant Bottles of 2010: Monte da Peceguina 2009 is a big, soft, rounded red. Plums, pomegranate and dark berries with well-integrated oak, from a Portuguese niche producer. (Donnybrook Fair, Corkscrew, Fallon & Byrne, Wine Boutique, Sweeneys, Mortons, Bin No9 and others, around €19).

Meyer-Fonne Gentil d'Alsace 2008, a dry blend of muscat and pinot blanc with just a twist of riesling and gewurztraminer to add interest, with a moderate 12pc ABV is well worth the €13.95 ask. (Fallon & Byrne, other good independents or online from importers

I've lost count of the number of bottles

of Tim Adams' The Fergus 2006 I bought in 2010 (Tesco and good independents, around €13.65). Tim's are probably the cheapest wines you can buy that I'd regard as 'fine', (ie worth laying down). This stunning red, majoring on grenache, from cool Clare Valley gained me lots of brownie points over Christmas.