The 72% Wine Ramblers and their New Year's resolutions: 2010 (revisited) and 2011

The 72% Wine Ramblers and their New Year's resolutions: 2010 (revisited) and 2011

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The leftovers: Burgundy Pinot will be Julian's mission for this year. We both should muster our courage and finally venture into Saxony.
  3. 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!

Submitted by Alex Sunday, 02/01/2011

Happy New Year to you guys as well. It was very entertaining and inspiring to read your posts in 2010 and I'm looking forward to continue reading your blog in twenty-eleven.
Exploring Burgundy is naturally quite a big project for a NY resolution. And also one I personally try to take on every year anew. So far my experience has showed me that price is even less an indicator of quality than in all other wine regions of the world.
As for Jura wine, it is funnily also a topic I got in touch with this year. I can recommend my friend Didier's blog ( )since he is himself from the region and knows quite a bit about it. Also, his facebook page about Jura wines is quite informative ( . All the Best, Alex.

Submitted by torsten Sunday, 02/01/2011

In reply to by Alex

Alex, thanks very much, the compliment means a lot! Even more so when it comes with helpful suggestions. We are now following Didier's adventures on Twitter and I will have a closer look at his blog later. Traditionally, I have left Burgundy more to Julian, especially as I am now exploring English wine. You could say that he has the better end of the deal, but as you rightly says it is also a challenging task. Also, I really enjoy learning more about English wine.

Keep up the good work and bring us more good wine and fine dining adventures in 2011 - and next time you come to London let me know!

All the best,

Submitted by Heike Sunday, 02/01/2011

to you too! I like reading your posts and will continue to do so in 2011. Good luck with your resolutions, and yes, you did pretty well with 2010's. :-) My goal will be to focus more on the Pfalz this year, as I will be explaining on my blog soon...

All the best and Cheers!


Submitted by torsten Sunday, 02/01/2011

In reply to by Heike

Thank you for the compliment, Heike. Very happy that you will stay with us for another year. I am looking forward to reading more about your Pfalz adventures. When I started out I fell for the Mosel, but every year the Pfalz is impressing me more and more with the variety of exciting wine made there, so it is good that you will keep an eye on things!

All the best, Torsten